New Silk Route looking to encash part of 9X Media investment

MUMBAI: The news of New Silk Route (NSR) approaching buyers to divesting a part of its stake in 9X Media is out. And Pradeep Guha, the managing director of 9X Media, who incidently also holds a small (15 per cent) stake in the group feels this could not be a better move for the network.

"If more buyers come in with more money, then it is only going to benefit the group," he says.

However, he has not decided if he will be offloading his holding or keeping it. He feels that it is too early to discuss it and all depends on what happens next.

Launched as INX Media, the company started operations with 9XM. It was renamed 9X Media in August 2010, with complete focus on its music business. (The assets and liabilities of the mother GEC 9X were absorbed by Zee Entertainment.) It currently operates five channels, 9XM (Hindi music channel), 9XO (international music), 9X Jalwa (classic Bollywood music), 9X Tashan (Punjabi) and 9X Jhakaas (Marathi).

The NSR had invested in the network founded by Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjee in 2007 and took over its reins in 2011. "We are a private equity fund so it was but obvious that at some point we will exit the venture," says NSR Advisors partner Shantanu Nalavadi who clearly states that it is the company's seventh year in the group as an investor.

Nalavadi proudly proclaims that over the years, the group has become a great platform. "We are now known as a music group and we hope to be known as the music destination among our viewers."

He highlights that it will continue to invest in 9X Media because it has been showing 30 per cent growth year on year. "We didn't take the decision overnight and are in talks with others over the past two years or so. And we will not leave it completely," he clarifies.

According to Mihir Date, a consultant with Ernst & Young says that with 100 per cent FDI allowed in non-news channels there will be many takers. He adds that the plan to sell it when the company is at a peak is a wise decision. "The position of 9X Media is good in the genre and its plans to expand are positive signals for any buyer."

That must be music to Guha's ears.

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