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Hinduja Finance has now been transformed in to a valuable listed company in the ICE sector
Ravi Ananthanarayanan - Business Standard, Thursday March 23rd, 2000

Hinduja Finance is now eligible for the status of a full-fledged ICE company, having done a series of consolidations in the last quarter of this fiscal. The latest one saw the group's media business too get reflected in the listed company in a significant manner.

The Hinduja group is a major player in the media business with IndusInd Media and Communications which operates the IN Network cable business.The company is merging Richman Investrade with itself in a move which will give Hinduja Finance a 51 per cent stake in IndusInd Media.

IN Network is the only full service network broadband infrastructure that is capable of providing multi-media services in the form of video, data, telephony and e-commerce transactions. The company has constructed a fibre optic backbone that will enable it to provide two-way services facilitating Internet on cable. With four million households under its belt, it has a captive set of subscribers whom it can tap for offering its new value-added services.Though all these households may not form the target group, it has a base which it can tap, giving it that extra edge. Moreover, it is planning to expand its presence to mini-metros too.

In January 2000, the company had decided to merge Ashok Leyland Information Technology with itself. This company provides ERP implementation services and had plans to focus on e-commerce solutions and IT training. It had also picked up a 51 per cent stake in In2cable has a national ISP license and plans to offer Internet access through cable. The service will use the IN cable network to offer Internet access to its subscribers. Moreover, it will also launch portals which can capitalise on the large bandwidth that is available.

In sum, Hinduja Finance has now been transformed in to a valuable listed company in the ICE sector. It has a captive subscriber base, infrastructure in terms of a cable network and Internet through cable access and technology inputs from the software business.

The company can now leverage on its market capitalisation to raise resources to fund the growth plans it has in the sector.This has witnessed a sharp increase in its market capitalisation to about Rs 1,000 crore from about Rs 300 crore in end-January 2000. The next thing the company can do to improve valuation is to rid itself of the remaining trappings of the NBFC business.