TV18's holding company to offer 10% equity to public

MUMBAI: Television Eighteen India Ltd's proposed holding company, TV18 Network Ltd, plans to issue fresh shares to the public amounting to about 10 per cent of its equity base.

In the holding company, the existing shareholders of Television Eighteen India will have a 39 per cent stake. Promoter Raghav Bahl will hold 51 per cent stake. "The restructuring is done in such a way that there will be no value loss for the existing TV Eighteen shareholders," says CNBC-TV Eighteen CEO Haresh Chawla

The existing Television Eighteen shareholders will be protected as they will hold 74 per cent stake in iBN, the venture that will launch general news channels, and 100 per cent stake in Awaaz, the Hindi consumer business news channel. In iBN, Television Eighteen's holding will be 23 per cent while Rajdeep Sardesai and the professional shareholders will have 26 per cent. The holding company TV18 Network LTD will have the balance 51 per cent.

In the first phase of the restructuring, Awaaz will be merged with Television Eighteen. This company is already holding CNBC-TV18, the English business news channel, and portals and TV18 Network, the second listed holding company, will have a 51 per cent plus stake in Television Eighteen and iBN. Hitherto, Awaaz and the proposed general news English channel were held in promoter entities and were legally not part of the listed Television Eighteen, due to government restrictions.

The restructuring will enable TV18 to comply with the uplinking guidelines of the government. The key pivot for the restructuring plan is that the dominant Indian shareholder must own 51 per cent. TV18 was non compliant and hence would not have got necessary licences to operate the business; its current licence on CNBC-TV18 was also under government's scanner.

Two options were considered for restructuring. The first option meant merging the businesses without cancelling any promoter shareholding. Promoter would park shares (25 per cent) in a Trust for TV18 shareholders. But the company opted for the other option: the promoter would move stake to the holding company and list it; TV18 shareholder would get fungible stake in the holding company. There would, thus, be no effective dilution for TV18 shareholders.

TV18 has opted for creation of two listed entities. Bahl will act as the dominant shareholder. The restructuring process will involve consolidation of TV18's media businesses and creation of a group structure. This will be achieved through a High Court process whereby the TV18 shareholder will automatically be allotted shares proportionately in the two entities and will have a legal holding in both Awaaz and the proposed general news English channel, apart from the shareholding in the existing listed company.

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