Palador settles dispute with UTV, closes US$ 6 Million funding

The dispute between UTV and Palador, that threatened the World Cinema category and over 160 of the world?s finest films, was amicably settled. In a simultaneous development, Palador is also raising funding of US$ 6 million from private investors, after a 15% dilution of equity, raising its valuation to US$ 40 million.

As part of the legal decree passed by the sole arbitrator, the following are some terms of the consent award:

The serious allegations made against Palador ? including ?material breach? and ?non-performance? - that were claimed as reasons for terminating the venture by UTV, have been unconditionally withdrawn.

Palador unconditionally gets back its coveted catalogue of nearly 100 films that was being claimed by UTV (Trade ad in ?Super Cinema? dated: June 16th, 2007) with immediate effect. The films returned to Palador?s custody include some of Kurasawa?s best films: Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood and other classics by directors such as Lars Von Trier, Truffaut, Godard, Haneke, Kiarostami, Makhmalbaf etc.

Palador has also committed to return all expenses incurred by UTV on the venture UTV-Palador, to secure the release of the balance films? that are being held as collateral by UTV till the time of the payment.

Palador is to shortly get back the brand it had created and the brand under which UTV-Palador was operating - ?The Olive Collection?.

The demand that UTV had made for Palador to stop working in the very same World Cinema movement that it heralded in India, has been unconditionally withdrawn - which means that Palador can now freely bring its new line-up which includes films from Wong Kar Wai, Kieslowski, Werner Herzog and over 30 films of Ingmar Bergman and Antonioni, who passed away last week.

Commenting on the development, Gautam Shiknis, MD and Founder of Palador Pictures, said, ?We had no doubt that Palador would get back what was rightfully ours ? reputation, ?The Olive Collection? and our coveted films that we have laboriously put together over three years. This puts Palador firmly on the path to be the largest player in this category.?

Mohan Polamar, Joint MD and Co-founder of Palador, adds, ?It is ideally in the interest of the category that there are at lest two strong players. Our fallout with UTV was on philosophical grounds and I am excited for there would be more than one house for these great directors and their films.?

UTV and Palador will now individually work towards developing the World Cinema category. However, this development makes Palador, with close to a 1000 films, the largest content owner in the World Cinema market in the country ? a market estimated to reach a valuation of Rs.1,500 crore by 2009 and compose 20 percent of the non-Indian language movie segment in India.

The equity of US$ 6 million is being raised through a group of private individuals that include Mahesh Mathai, Srila Chaterjee and Simran Mulchandani ? based in Mumbai; and Arun Banerjee and Vishal Aggarwal ? both New York based NRI?s.

Commenting on the investment Mahesh Mathai - legendary ad film-maker and acclaimed director of the film ?Bhopal Express? and a soon to be released English feature BROKEN THREAD, said, ?Palador is an emerging company and a monopoly player in the World Cinema segment in the sub-continent. Our philosophy of making quality films is in sync with Palador?s vision of quality cinema. The investment is thus a natural extension for us.?

Arun Banerjee, said, ?It is important for NRI?s to fund start-ups outside the technology construct. Investment in developing media companies is the safest bet for NRI investments.?

Commenting on the application of the investment, Palador founder and MD, Gautam Shiknis said, ?The fund will be used towards the development of quality content, and advancing the content that has been acquired.? Palador is expecting to have its DVD label released in another two month?s time.

Palador had recently scored an ace at this years prestigious Cannes Film Festival, acquiring the rights of the festival?s extra-special ?60th Anniversary Prize? winner film ?Paranoid Park? by acclaimed director Gus Van Sant (director of Oscar winning film ? Good Will Hunting). The film will see a simultaneous French and Indian release in September this year, while the US release is expected during February next year. This is the first time, that a film made in the US, will see a theatrical release in India, much before its US release.