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Goodbye ABCL, hello AB Corp.

Summary: After a disastrous flirtation with corporatisation in the mid-'90s, Amitabh Bachchan has more to show for his efforts in his second wind.

If you can't keep a good man down, it's even more difficult to hold back a superstar for too long. In 1996, Amitabh Bachchan flagged off his first corporate venture, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd. (ABCL), with much fanfare. The vision was to become a Rs 1,000 crore entertainment and film production company by 2000. But some business decisions that went wrong - including a decision to sponsor a Miss India pageant-coupled with a clutch of box-office turkeys, resulted in ABCL going spectacularly wrong in a couple of years. By 1999 it was a stretcher case at the gates of the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, having piled up losses to the tune of Rs 70.82 crore, and debt of Rs 70 crore.

ABCL was down and out, but AB the star wasn't. Big B was back with a bang by 2000, this time on the small screen with Kaun Banega Crorepati -a series that revived his fortunes along with those of the general entertainment channel (GEC) STAR Plus. Estimates reveal that Bachchan earned Rs 15 crore for 85 episodes of the show. The rush of endorsements that came his way, like the ICICI Bank endorsement deal for Rs 10 crore, helped Big B pay back creditors and clean up ABCL's balance sheet.

BACK WITH A BANG Tidy profits find their way to AB Corp. Total Income: Rs 29.25 cr Income from endorsements: Rs 22.45 cr Net Profit: Rs 19.26 cr

Since then Bachchan has been on a roll of sorts. ABCL was rechristened AB Corp in 2001, and a mint-new team headed by CEO Ramesh Pulapaka is now in place. Latest filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs show that AB Corp had revenues of Rs 29.25 crore in the year ended September 2008, with profits of Rs 19.26 crore. Endorsements pitched in with Rs 22.45 crore to overall revenues. In 2009, Bachchan endorsed some 13 brands as against 19 in 2008. Another significant revenue stream is courtesy his appearance on GEC Colors' reality show Bigg Boss -he reportedly earned Rs 2.25 crore per show (he was present in 24 of the 84 episodes).

The biggest shot in the arm came 12 months ago, when AB Corp returned to big-time film production with Paa , starring Big B and his son Abhishek. For Paa AB Corp tied up with Reliance Big Pictures, which is a co-producer and distributed the film. Paa, made at a budget of Rs 15 crore, has grossed some Rs 60 crore at the box office so far. The company has also produced a Marathi film Vihir , which released in January. At 67, the Paa of Indian cinema seems to have got it right.

Reproduced From Business Today. Copyright 2010. LMIL. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Business Today More (New Delhi, India)
Date:Feb 20, 2010
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