Mukesh Ambani building media empire?
Moneylife Digital team 20 December 2011

Ambani is in talks to buy Network 18, says Wall Street Journal. Earlier D E Shaw, (which has a joint venture with Reliance) bought 14% stake in NDTV

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, India’s biggest private sector conglomerate, is apparently in talks to buy Network 18, the television and internet company, the Wall Street Journal said quoting people familiar with the situation. Network18 Media and Investments, the holding company for the conglomerate, has annual revenue of about Rs1,500 crore but makes losses.

The Network18 group is up to its neck in debt and is apparently talking with Thomson Reuters to sell a 26% stake in Newswire18, in real-time financial news agency.

The Network 18 group comprises a variety of television, print, web and entertainment properties most of which are losing money. Its main properties are collaborations with top media companies such as CNBC, CNN, MTV, Viacom, etc.

This would be the second move by Mr Ambani to acquire media control. Earlier, US-based DE Shaw, a private equity and hedge fund, entered into a joint venture agreement with Reliance Industries in India. Exactly around that time, DE Shaw acquired a 14% stake in New Delhi Television (NDTV) for Rs70 crore.  NDTV which is perennially losing money, operates three news channels—NDTV 24/7, NDTV India and NDTV Profit. Viewership of these channels is plummeting after competition in each segment intensified.

According to media reports, billionaire Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest person has also been holding talks with a host of media and entertainment firms, including Walt Disney’s Indian venture UTV Software, to acquire content for its upcoming telecom venture. US-based Walt Disney holds over 50% stake in UTV Software Communications and it is in process of acquiring the entire stake in the Indian firm. A deal with Walt Disney would give RIL’s telecom venture access to a host of games, entertainment and other children-focussed content solutions.

RIL has a 95% stake in Infotel Broadband Services, marking its entry into the telecom sector. Infotel is the only company to have pan-India BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) licence.

More than two decades ago Reliance had made a bid to enter the media by buying the Observer newspaper which it ran half-heartedly and closed down. Anil Ambani, the estranged and debt-strapped younger brother of Mukesh was leading that effort. The ADAG group controlled by Anil Ambani has large stakes in TV Today and other media companies.

Comments
Nagesh Kini FCA
1 decade ago
Mr. Kumar, surely you are not legally advised by Sr. Counsel Salman Kurshid who has assumed the role of a guardian angel of the 'reputation' of India Inc!
S Kumar
1 decade ago
Spreading fabricated, false and malicious information attempting to tarnish the image of reputed corporate. Such falsehood could damage India’s reputation as an investor friendly country.
Nagesh Kini FCA
1 decade ago
Bennett Coleman have almost cornered the print media and with Times Now has a large presence in the electronic media too. Now if RIL jumps into the fray we are not sure of the quality of unbiased reporting.

Read Khushwant Singh's and Vinod Mehta's autobiographies to know how the so-called press barons shuffle their editors at will.
Balan
1 decade ago
Ego. He should worry more about legacy
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