It’s official: Reliance Industries has informed BSE that the company board has approved a funding of up to Rs 4,000 crore to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RIL is a sole beneficiary, to acquire control in Network18 including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast and to make open offers post the acquisition.
IMT will be using these funds to acquire 78% stake in Network18 and 9% stake in TV18 and to acquire shares tendered in the Open Offers. RIL mentions that IMT will be making open offers simultaneously to public shareholders to acquire shares of Network18, TV18 and Infomedia Press Limited. There is currently however no word on when IMT will be making these open offers. RIL will be working together with IMT in open offers. Outside of these open offers, we wonder if there is any actual money being spent, because it appears to be an exercise of the option that RIL had, through IMT, of buying the promoter group stake in Network18 and TV18.
It’s worth noting that Network18 had witnessed exits of its group CEO B Saikumar and group COO Ajay Chacko yesterday and its CFO RDS Bawa earlier today. There is speculation that Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor in Chief of CNN-IBN is also on his way out too. A Mint report also suggests a possible exit of founder and chairman Raghav Bahl. There was speculation that Reliance Industries was driving these changes through IMT. It’s also worth noting that Reliance Industries had recently hired a few senior media industry executives, both in Editorial and Business.
Big 4G play
RIL mentions that that this acquisition will differentiate Reliance’s 4G business through a unique combination of telecom, web and digital commerce through Network18’s suite of digital properties and broadcast channels.
Digital properties include In.com, IBNLive.com, Moneycontrol.com, Firstpost.com, Cricketnext, Homeshop18.com, Bookmyshow.com and broadcast channels include Colors, CNN IBN, CNBC TV18, IBN7 and CNBC Awaaz among others.