Indian billionaire Adani seeks to control NDTV; media group says move without consent

The Adani Group indirectly acquired a 29.2 per cent stake and offered to buy another 26 per cent from the open market. PHOTO: REUTERS

BENGALURU (REUTERS,BLOOMBERG) – Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s conglomerate on Tuesday (Aug 23) said it seeks to control a majority stake in the popular New Delhi Television (NDTV), a move the TV news group said was executed without its consent.

A unit of the Adani Group said it had used financial rights in a bid to purchase a 29.18 per cent stake in NDTV, laying out plans for a subsequent open offer for another 26 per cent stake in line with Indian regulations.

Hours after the announcement, NDTV issued a statement saying the move by the Adani group “was executed without any input from, conversation with, or consent of the NDTV founders.”

Adani Group did not respond to NDTV’s remarks.

One of nation’s most popular news organisations, NDTV is regarded as one of the few media groups which often takes a critical view of the ruling administration’s policies.

It operates three national channels – NDTV 24x7 in English, NDTV India in Hindi and a business news channel.

While Mr Adani did not disclose financial details of the group’s planned 29.18 per cent stake purchase, it said its subsequent open offer would be for 294 Indian rupees (US$3.68) per NDTV share, which would be worth 4.93 billion rupees.

That open offer price is at a 20.5 per cent discount to NDTV’s Tuesday’s close of 369.75 rupees.

NDTV was founded by one of India’s most famous TV news personalities, Prannoy Roy, and his wife in 1988.

Other than TV news channels, the group also runs online news websites.

On Monday, NDTV said in a stock exchange disclosure that Radhika and Prannoy Roy were not in discussions with any entity for a change in ownership or a divestment of their stake in NDTV.

They individually and through their company continue to hold 61.45 per cent of NDTV, the statement said.

This acquisition marked "a significant milestone" for AMG Media Networks Ltd. that aims to "pave the path of new age media across platforms," Mr Sanjay Pugalia, the company's chief executive officer said in a statement.

"NDTV is the most suitable broadcast and digital platform to deliver on our vision."

The group's founder-billionaire Adani, with the world's biggest wealth gain this year, built his empire on agri-trading and ports but has speedily diversified into airports, data centers, cement, renewable energy and now media.

This breakneck growth, sometimes in unrelated sectors, is making some investors wary about the group being too indebted and the management bandwidth getting too stretched across newer businesses.

Earlier this year, Adani Enterprises Ltd. established AMG Media Networks, an arm it said would be in the publishing and broadcasting businesses among other things.

In March, Adani Media Ventures Ltd. agreed to buy a stake in Quintillion Business Media Pvt.

The Adani group is exploring buying stakes in some local television and print news outlets, while a few have approached the conglomerate also to study potential deals, Bloomberg reported in May.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.