Television

Promoters' stake in Network18 rises to 73% after rights issue

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MUMBAI: Raghav Bahl's stake in Network18 has soared to 73 per cent after a muted response from the other shareholders to the rights issue but it is still not clear how much control Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) will have indirectly over the sprawling media company which has interests in television, internet, films, digital commerce, magazines, mobile content and allied businesses.

RIL's Independent Media Trust (IMT) was to provide the money the promoters of Network18 would require to subscribe to shares in the rights issues of both Network18 and TV18. The details of funds lent by IMT through investments in zero coupon optionally convertible debentures (ZOCDs) issued by the promoter companies are not yet available.

A minimum amount of Rs 9.96 billion borrowed from IMT would result in a 51 per cent stake in the promoter companies of Network18 on conversion of the ZOCDs.

Following the closure of the rights issue on 4 October, the promoter holding in Network18 Media & Investments Ltd has jumped by 51 per cent from its earlier stake of 48.30 per cent.

This follows the increase in stakes of the six promoter companies which subscribed to the promoters' entitlement in the rights issue and also to the rights entitlement unsubscribed by non-promoter shareholders.

After the rights issue, the shareholding of the six promoter companies in Network18 has increased to 66.16 per cent from 36.90 per cent. After including the shareholding of other promoter group holdings, the total promoter stake in Network18 after the rights issue is 73 per cent.

The six promoter companies are RRB Mediasoft, RB Mediasoft, RB Media Holdings, Watermark Infratech, Colorful Media and Adventure Marketing. These promoter companies are owned and controlled by Bahl, founder of Network18 group, and wife Ritu Kapur.

Network18's subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd operates news channels CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNBC-TV18 Prime HD, CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat (a Marathi regional news channel in partnership with the Lokmat group of newspapers).

TV18 also operates a joint venture with Viacom, called Viacom18, which houses a portfolio of popular entertainment channels - Colors, Colors HD, MTV, Sonic, Comedy Central, VH1 and Nick - and Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the group's filmed entertainment business.

Network18 offered 307 shares for every 50 shares held by its shareholders at a price of Rs 30 per share. Its subsidiary TV18's rights issue of 41 shares for every 11 shares held by its shareholders at a price of Rs 20 per share closed on 15 October, but the details of the issue are still not available.

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