Pyramid Saimira makes acquistions in the US

MUMBAI: Chennai based theater chain Pyramid Saimira’s North American unit Pyramid Saimira Entertainment America has acquired a Texas company FunAsiA that offers Bollywood-based multimedia entertainment format appealing to the South Asians in the United States and Canada.

At the same time, Pyramid Saimira acquired an existing cinema and radio drive-time hours in Chicago and radio time in Houston, its first steps in taking the FunAsiA multimedia entertainment concept across the United States and Canada.

The company has acquired 17 screens in four locations in USA. The acquisition consists of six screens in Dallas, 11 screens in Houston, three banquet halls in Dallas and a radio station. This is in addition to the company’s foray into Malaysia and Singapore. The company plans to set up 60 screens the US and Canada by the end of this fiscal. This acquisition takes the total number screens under the company’s banner to 703 globally.

Plans are also afoot to expand rapidly to other major North American cities. The financials of the deal were not disclosed.

“South Asians are much more visible in North America today,” said Pyramid Saimira managing director Saminathan P. Subramanian.

“We have an aggressive timeframe for bringing the FunAsiA name and entertainment concept to major US and Canadian cities. We are bringing state-of-the-art screening technology to every North American cinema we operate and plan to add services like video conference matchmaking to help South Asians stay in touch with their extended families and cultural roots,” Saminathan added.

Pyramid Saimira also plans to introduce to North America its prepaid movie card, offering filmgoers unlimited showings for a set fee.

In Texas, FunAsiA operates Bollywood theaters in Irving and Richardson, plus two in Houston. Films are shown in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Kannada and Urdu, most with English subtitles. Going forward, all FunAsiA theaters in North America will be retrofitted with completely digital screening equipment.

FunAsiA complexes include a South Asian music dance floor, Indian-Pakistani concessions, a community banquet and event hall, and seminar and meeting rooms for weddings, receptions, concerts, and other community events.

Pyramid Saimira’s video matchmaking service enables couples located thousands of miles apart to see and speak with each other while not divulging private information like telephone numbers or e-mail addresses. This is a popular service among South Asians, who are often paired in arranged marriages. New video booths will be added to the FunAsiA complexes in Chicago, Texas and elsewhere as the expansion proceeds.

On top of that, Pyramid Saimira has acquired drive-time hours from two radio stations – WCEV-AM 1450 in Chicago and KGBC-AM 1540 in Houston – to add to the existing FunAsiA-owned radio, KHSE-AM 700 in Richardson, which is broadcast across the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area.

FunAsiA will acquire additional radio programming hours in the other markets it enters as well as expand to these cities the existing FunAsiA DesiPages, a glossy, thick monthly magazine currently distributed free throughout South Asian communities in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.

“FunAsiA truly is a multimedia, one-stop venue for ethnic and mainstream advertisers to reach the booming South Asian market across North America or in one particular city,” said FunAsiA chief marketing officer Prasad Thotakura.

“We extend our gratitude to South Asians in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas for their patronage of FunAsiA. We dedicate the success of our expansion to the South Asian community in the great state of Texas,” said FunAsiA senior vice president Shabnam Modgil.

The brothers who founded FunAsiA – Dr. Farrukh, John and Shariq Hamid – remain as executive advisors, assisting the new owners with taking the multimedia entertainment concept coast to coast.

“In addition to film exhibition, Pyramid Saimira plans to produce roughly 100 new films next year in facilities in Chennai, India. We’re delighted that these South Asian movies will now be playing on FunAsiA screens across North America,” Dr. Hamid said.

The company’s scrip on the India’s Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was up 4.40 per cent today and closed at Rs 297.70, which was Rs 12.55 higher than its previous close of Rs 285.15.