Osian`s sells 9.4% stake to PE firm

Gargi Gupta / New Delhi March 18, 2008
Osian's Connoisseurs of Art has signed an agreement to sell an approximately 9.4 per cent stake to Abraaj Capital, Dubai-based private equity firm, for Rs 80 crore.

Osian's valuation, going by this transaction, is Rs 840 crore. Arif Masood Naqvi, vice chairman and group chief executive officer of Abraaj, will join the Osian's board.

Starting with its first auction in 2000, Osian's, founded by Neville Tuli, has grown into a unique private-sector art institution straddling various sectors of art, films and lately, sports. There is Osian's archive of visual and textual material which includes rare etchings, lithographs, maps of India, British Indian photography, popular art, cinema publicity material.

In 2004, Osian's acquired film journal Cinemaya, and took over the organising of Cinefan, the film festival.

Having acquired Minerva theatre in Mumbai in 2006, where it is building Osianama, a museum for cinema and the arts, the company has also ventured into film production.

Last year, Osian's ventured into football with the Durand Cup and took over the management of a Delhi-based club. Then there is Osian's art fund, floated in 2006, with a corpus of Rs 100 crore. The company is looking at a public listing in 2009.

"Since its inception, we have sought to create a world-class infrastructure-building institution that takes a leadership position in key artistic and cultural sectors, demonstrating that a knowledge and creativity driven approach can also generate great wealth for the collective, let alone the institution," says Tuli, the largest shareholder with a 38 per cent holding, in the media release to announce the tie-up with Abraaj.

Osian's has 48 other stake holders, with none holding more than 5 per cent. These include Shiv and Kiran Nadar, Sanjeev Khandelwal, Gautam Thapar, Kumarmangalam Birla, Kito de Boer, Kamal Morarka, Sangita Kathiwada, Jerry Rao, Priya Paul and Ashok Alexander, among others.

'Each has been buying from 2001 when shares started at Rs 30 and thereafter many placements every year at Rs 90, Rs 180, Rs 360, Rs 540, Rs 1,000, Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,600.'

According to Tuli, the infusion of capital will go towards ' international expansion and the fast forwarding of building the Osianama, and a major new focus on the web world to build a world class research engine for the Indian, Asian and Arab Arts and Cinema'.
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