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STUDIO A BOON FOR HCI, SASANI

CAPE TOWN Two listed companies, Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) and Sasani, are in line to benefit from Friday’s expected announcement by the Western Cape government of the winning consortium to build Cape Town’s multimillion-rand film studio. The three short-listed contenders for the studio are Dreamworld, Cape Town Motion Picture Studios and the iKapa Film Consortium. It was reported yesterday that the groups have been talking to one another about the possibility of working together on the project. The R20bn film industry in Cape Town has been growing at 20% a year. But growth has been constrained by the lack of facilities to make full-length feature films. Sasani said in its 2002 annual report that the availability of a suitable sound stage for feature film work would significantly increase SA’s attractiveness as a production destination. HCI is the owner of Midi-TV, which is a 30% stakeholder in the Dreamworld consortium. The consortium is headed by Durban filmmaker Anant Singh. Sasani, which already owns film studios, had aligned itself with Dreamworld and the iKapa Film Consortium by way of loose agreements, Sasani CEO James Whitehouse said. HCI’s shares are suspended from trade pending a ruling on its delisting from the JSE Securities Exchange SA, making it less interesting to potential investors than Sasani. Sasani’s share price, which fell to 50c in April from about 65c in February, recently climbed to 87c. It is currently at about 75c. Whitehouse said that if the Cape Town film studio went ahead, it would supplement Sasani’s business. Studio facilities are only a small part of a movie budget, which also includes hire of locations, cameras and postproduction facilities. But growing a successful film industry in SA requires a concerted approach from national government, as a receptive funding environment is more important than the provision of a studio. Whitehouse said that the strengthening in Sasani’s share price was more likely due to other changes at Sasani, and not because of the studio tender. Sasani’s results for the year to June are expected to be released in mid-September.

Source: Charlotte Mathews – Business Day