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UTV Acquires Game Stake, Enters Feature Animation

Mumbai-based UTV Software Communications Ltd. has announced the acquisition of 70% of U.K. gaming company Ignition Ent. for $13 million and a 51% stake in leading Indian mobile gaming firm Indiagames for $15 million, reports various news outlets. In addition, UTV said it was investing $30 million into three animated features.

Game developer Ignition has a client list that includes Nintendo, Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3. For the latter, Ignition is producing the £10 million ($19 million) budgeted game, WAR DEVIL, which set to hits stores in 2008. The company's projected annual revenue for 2006 is $15 million.

Indiagames is India's largest mobile and online gaming firms, which recorded revenue of $5 million in its past fiscal year that ended in March.

"These acquisitions complete UTV's vertical diversification in all areas given that we are already strong in broadcasting and film," UTV chairman/ceo Ronnie Screwvala said. "We are now looking forward to the creative and marketing challenges of exploiting content across new media."

As for UTV's movie into feature animation, the first production will be THE DREAM BLANKET, directed by Simi Nallaseth, a key animator on ICE AGE.

ARJUN will be based on a character from Indian mythology. This project will be directed by Arnab Chaudhury, a cd at Turner International Asia and former cd at News Corp.'s music outlet Channel V.

The third feature will be a co-production with Will Smith's Overbrook Ent.

UTV is publicly traded, which The Walt Disney Co. owns a 14.9% stake in. Earlier in the year, Walt Disney acquired UTV's children's network Hungama TV for $30.5 million.

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