UFO Moviez, the digital film distribution company, has raised Rs 260 crore from private equity firm Providence Equity, by selling an undisclosed minority stake in the company, reports Market Watch. It also reports that a few existing investors made partial exits and the stake sale has made Providence, the largest shareholder in UFO Moviez.

Part of the Valuable group (which has investments from 3i and the Apollo International group), UFO Moviez is a digital film distribution service, that uses satellites to digitally distribute films. It claims to operate 2500 digital screens in India, and planning to launch 3D systems in 1000 screens. The company also has a partnership with Reliance Mediaworks (Adlabs), for digitization and distribution of movies, and deployment of digital technology at Reliance operated Big Cinemas.

Acquisition Plans

The report mentions that UFO intends to use the funds for acquisitions and expansion, most interestingly, the acquisition of a strategic stake in digital cinema systems company Scrabble Entertainment. Scrabble offers 2D to 3D conversion of broadcasts and had bought rights to convert and broadcast IPL matches in 3D from UFO’s sister company Crown Infotainment, for Rs2.5 crore last year. It had an 80:20 share partnership with UFO Moviez, with Scrabble getting 20 percent share of revenue. Last year, UFO Moviez had screened four IPL matches in 3D in cinema theaters, and the final match of the tournament at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai.

What Happened To MovieBeam?

MediaNama readers would recall that the UFO Moviez had bought a defunct VoD service called MovieBeam in 2008, which never took off. At the time of the acquisition UFO had announced an investment of $100 million to relaunch the service. Subsequently, the company said that they’ll relaunch MovieBeam for the hospitality sector, but we haven’t heard of any hospitality sector related initiative from UFO Moviez; there was the small issue of a global recession post the MovieBeam acquisition.

What Happened To Airtel’s Digital Distribution Plans?

A little over a year ago, Airtel had announced plans to set up a digital media distribution exchange and distribute movies digitally through fiber optic technology. That play was expected to be bigger than just distribution to theatres, and given that they own bandwidth and don’t need to lease it, unlike UFO Moviez, they would have an advantage over UFO Moviez. But has that project taken off the ground? We’re writing to Airtel for an update on it.

Related:
Reliance MediaWorks And UFO Moviez Ink Digital Cinema Partnership
Airtel Considering The Digital Cinema Business
UFO Moviez Group Buys Defunct VoD Service MovieBeam; Plans $100 Million Investment For North America, UK