Asia’s richest man to buy majority stake in news organization in hostile takeover

Adani Group, run by Asia’s richest man Gautam Adani, has launched a hostile bid to take over influential news broadcaster in a move to establish footing in the South Asian nation’s media landscape.

AMG Media Networks, a unit of Adani Group, has indirectly taken control of about 29.18% stake in New Delhi Television by buying one of the network’s major shareholders. AMG acquired the shareholder by exercising an option reserved in a loan provided to NDTV’s founders and promoters over a decade ago. AMD is also launching an offer to buy another 26% stake in the news organization, the Indian conglomerate said. The open offer is expected to be worth $61.77 million.

Founded over three decades ago, NDTV is one of India’s most popular and respected news organizations and a rare property that consistently takes a critical view of the ruling government’s efforts.

The New Delhi-headquartered business, which operates two TV news channels and maintains a large presence on the web, said Tuesday that neither the firm nor its founders held any conversation, gave consent or input for the majority stake acquisition.

“Without any discussion with New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) or its founder-promoters, a notice has been served upon them by Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited (VCPL), stating that it (VCPL) has exercised its rights to acquire 99.50% control of RRPR Holding Private Limited (RRPRH), the promoter-owned Company that owns 29.18% of NDTV. The notice from VCPL is based on a loan agreement it entered with NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy in 2009-10. The notice states that VCPL has exercised its option to convert 19,90,000 warrants into equity shares of RRPRH at Rs. 10/- per share, and that a total of Rs. 1.99 crores has been transferred to RRPRH,” NDTV added.

The acquisition comes as Adani, Asia’s richest man, looks to dive into media properties and compete aggressively with Mukesh Ambani, chairman of oil-to-telecom giant Reliance Industries, on another avenue. Ambani owns media property Network18.

According to a 2019 report by Reporters Without Borders, most of the leading Indian news organizations are owned by large conglomerates “that are still controlled by the founding families and that invest in a vast array of industries other than media.”

“This acquisition is a significant milestone in the journey of AMNL’s goal to pave the path of new age media across platforms,” said Sanjay Pugalia, CEO of AMG Media Networks, in a statement.

“AMNL seeks to empower Indian citizens, consumers and those interested in India, with information and knowledge. With its leading position in news and its strong and diverse reach across genres and geographies, NDTV is the most suitable broadcast and digital platform to deliver on our vision. We look forward to strengthening NDTV’s leadership in news delivery.”

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