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EConnect To Invest $100 Million in Zeenext

EConnect India Ltd, a subsidiary of Zee Telefilms, is planning to invest $100 million in Zeenext.com, a combination of Web-based and server-based mail systems, over a period of three years.

"We would be able to break even during this period," commented company president Sunil Jasuja.

Jasuja said the company would also launch Internet dialup services in Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi on March 26, and the service would cost Rs 499 (around US$11.50) per month for unlimited access.

A senior company official said Zee Telefilms would float its proposed American Depository Receipts (ADR) issue by June 2000. Company shareholders will meet on April 10 to give their approval.

In February 2000, the Zee Telefilms board had approved the plan for an ADR issue of up to US$1.5 billion or the issue of 40 million shares at a premium, whichever is higher.

The proceeds of the issue will be used to finance the company's existing business and develop related business, particularly in the Internet and other emerging media sectors.

Zee Telefilms Chairman Subhash Chandra said the company is still evaluating the options of listing the ADRs on either Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.

Zee has a large number of Indian language television channels ranging from news to entertainment, and is a major cable network player in the subcontinent.

EConnect has already teamed up with LG Soft India (a division of the US$80 billion consumer giant LG Korea) to launch a payment gateway on the Zeenext portal.