Adani clinches control over NDTV as founders sell down stake

The Adani Group, through RRPR and another entity called Vishvapradhan Commercial Pvt., will control 64.71 per cent in NDTV, the filing said. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI – Founders Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy will sell bulk of their shareholding in New Delhi Television Ltd. (NDTV) to a firm controlled by the Adani Group, giving the conglomerate a majority control in the broadcaster and capping a months-long hostile takeover that had triggered concerns around freedom of press. 

The Roys will sell 27.26 per cent of their equity in NDTV to RRPR Holding Pvt. via an inter-se transfer and be left with 5 per cent in the media company after the proposed transaction is carried out, the company said in an exchange filing late Friday. 

The Adani Group, through RRPR and another entity called Vishvapradhan Commercial Pvt., will control 64.71 per cent in NDTV, the filing said.

The ports-to-power conglomerate, led by Asia’s richest person Gautam Adani, already emerged as the largest shareholder in NDTV earlier this month with almost 38 per cent stake but the latest transaction cements its absolute control over the media firm.

The bowing out of the Roys, who set up NDTV in 1988, marks the culmination of a buyout bid mounted by billionaire Adani in August through an indirect acquisition of 29.2 per cent, which Roys said then they were neither aware of nor had consented to.

The deal stoked worries that Mr Adani’s control of NDTV could muzzle media freedom as it was one of the few news outlets relatively critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.

Mr Adani has often dovetailed his corporate strategy to Modi government’s initiatives and nation-building priorities.

After getting a green light from India’s markets regulator, the Adani Group scooped up an additional 8.3 per cent in NDTV through an open offer to minority shareholders priced at 294 rupees per share.

The Adani conglomerate “after the recent open offer, is now the single-largest shareholder in NDTV,” Roys said in a separate filing Friday. “Consequently, with mutual agreement we have decided to divest most of our shares in NDTV.”

Adani – the world’s biggest wealth gainer with a net worth of almost US$120 billion – is on a breakneck expansion spree.

After building his empire on agri-trading, coal and ports, the first-generation entrepreneur has speedily diversified into airports, data centers, cement, renewable energy, digital services and now media.

Under India’s takeover regulations, this purchase of shares by the Adani Group is exempt from another open offer and the only condition is that the shares can be sold at a price that’s at most 25 per cent higher than the volume weighted average market price of the stock in the preceding 60 trading days.

For Roys, this means a sale price not exceeding 460.53 rupees for each NDTV share. 

NDTV’s stock closed 2.7 per cent higher at 340.65 rupees on Friday in Mumbai, pushing this year’s surge to 194 per cent. The transaction was announced after the close of market hours. BLOOMBERG

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