are not going to entirely sell NDTV Profit. We are looking at a
minority strategic investor if it comes at the right value. We are
not in talks with Zee or TV Today," an official in NDTV said.
Any dilution of stake will involve hiving off of NDTV Profit from
NDTV Ltd, the company that houses NDTV 24x7, NDTV India and NDTV
"We haven't started that process as it is needed only after
we have finalised our partner. We have not reached that stage yet,"
said the official.
NDTV has not given the mandate to anybody to find an investor. Ernst
& Young was consulted to recommend restructuring of operations
and cost-cutting proposals.
"We have already carried out some of these recommendations,"
the official said.
has carried out several course-correction measures including getting
out of loss-making projects. Along with joint venture partner Kasturi
and Sons Limited (the publishers of Hindu newspaper), it recently
exited from the loss-making city-centric English language channel
in Chennai. Earlier, NDTV had sold its stake in NDTV Imagine, the
Hindi entertainment business, to Turner International.
had, in fact, cleaned up its huge pile of debt through these sale
transactions. The company's borrowings stood at Rs 2.05 billion,
according to data till 31 March 2012.
will drastically reduce our distribution costs. Our financials will
look much more healthier," the official said.
the fiscal ended March 2012, NDTV narrowed its net loss to Rs 191.5
million from Rs 986.3 million a year earlier. In the first quarter
of 2011-12, it reported net loss of Rs 227.1 million against a net
profit of Rs 98.1 million a year earlier.
Zee has clarified that it is not in talks with NDTV to buy out NDTV
Profit. "Some recent press reports have reported that Zee is
one of the front-runners to buy NDTV Profit. We would like to categorically
deny this news which is false and state that there are no such discussions
taking place between Zee and NDTV Profit," said Essel Group
head - group finance and strategy Himanshu Mody.
Zee News Ltd, which runs a clutch of Hindi and regional-language
channels, is planning to launch an English news channel.
analysts feel the acquisition of NDTV Profit may not be in the best
interests of TV Today. "The company is too heavily dependent
on its flagship Hindi general news channel Aaj Tak. It has to focus
on turning around its other loss-making channels. TV Today has also
made an investment of Rs 455 million in the loss-making Mail Today
and its cash reserves are depleted. The investment of Aditya Birla
Group in the parent company, Living Media India, will give TV Today
an indirect boost to expand on its strong TV news franchise,"
an analyst at a broking firm said.
the yet ended 31 March 2012, TV Today reported a net profit of Rs
105.24 million, down from Rs 124.24 million a year earlier, while
in the first quarter of 2012-13, its net profit was sharply lower
at Rs 10.08 million against Rs 166.44 million a year ago.
For NDTV, finding a strategic investor for just the business news
channel will be a tough task. "If the news business is sold
combined, it will be very attractive. But the question is whether
the promoters will want that," a media analyst said.
NDTV's lifestyle business is already operationally profitable. NDTV
Lifestyle Holdings, in which Astro is an equity partner, runs a
successful channel, NDTV Good Times.
"Once digitisation picks up, we will be launching niche channels
under the lifestyle genre. It is a growing genre and we are doing
well in that space," said the official.