STAR India has bought the remaining 13% stake in Asianet Communications Ltd to complete the Asianet acquisition, the company COO Sanjay Gupta has told TelevisionPost, without disclosing the financial terms of the deal.
Prior to this, Star India had increased its stake in Asianet Communications to 87%, by acquiring 12% stake for $160 million in June last year. This was by virtue of acquiring a 19% stake in Vijay TV after the government had cleared Vijay TV’s Rs 962 crore FDI request for acquiring existing domestic shareholding in the non-news channel.
This 19% equity stake in Vijay Television was previously held by Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Asianet Communications MD K Madhavan and following this investment, Asianet Communications was valued at $1.33 billion.
Founded in 1991, Asianet currently operates Malayalam channels like Asianet, Asianet Plus, Asianet Middle East, Asianet Sitara, Asianet Movies and Kannada Channels like Asianet Suvarna and Suvarna Plus. Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar had picked up 51% stake in Asianet Communications for an estimated Rs 150 crore in 2006.
The company was later restructured into four companies in June 2008 – general entertainment, news, radio and media infrastructure to allow separate investments in each segment.
In November 2008, Star TV created a joint venture with Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Entertainment Ventures called Star Jupiter which comprised of all general entertainment channels of Asianet Communications. STAR India’s Tamil channel, Star Vijay was also brought under this group at the time.
Star India had picked up a majority 51% stake in Asianet Communications as part of the deal, for which it had reportedly paid $235 million in cash and assumed net debt of approximately $20 million. News business was not a part of this portfolio since the FDI limit in news channels then was at 26% (there is currently a proposal to increase it to 49%), while it was 100% for general entertainment category.
Star India had later increased its stake in Asianet communications to 75% in July 2010, for which it paid around $90 million in cash.
In December 2012, News Corporation had completed the acquisition of ESPN Star Sports (ESS) by acquiring 50% stake of Walt Disney in the ESPN-Star Sports joint venture. Last November, Star Sports retired the ESPN brand and rebranded the channels as Star Sports 1,2,3,4 along with two HD channels HD1 and HD2.
STAR India had also parted ways with Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) in 2012, following which Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha were rebranded as ABP News, ABP Ananda and ABP Majha. Star continued as a shareholder with a 26% stake.