Television

NaiDunia, Pocha buy NewsX

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MUMBAI: The first of the mergers and acquisitions hit the media world just 9 days into the new year. INX News Pvt Ltd, part of the Peter Mukerjea, Indrani Mukerjea- owned INX Group, has been hawked off to Indi Media, a newly formed joint venture between NaiDunia promoter and CEO Vinay Chhajlani and former Businessworld editor Jehangir S Pocha. INX News runs the English language channel NewsX.

Details of the transaction were not available, but Chhajlani confirmed that the deal had indeed taken place. Pocha too confirmed that Indi Media had bought out the entire holding of the existing investors in INX News. He added that he will be taking on a strong editorial role in the company.

The employees of NewsX will continue to hold eight per cent ESOPs, parcelled out to them by the founder-promoters.

Exiting from the TV news venture a little before a year of existence, INX Media founder and CEO Indrani Mukerjea's pursuit was to create NewsX as a premier English news channel brand. While the promoters held 66 per cent in the news company, INX Media, supported by a clutch of private equity firms, had 26 per cent.

INX News ran into rough weather pretty early with editor-in-chief Vir Sanghvi and his core team leaving the set-up amid controversial circumstances even before the launch of the channel.

INX Media still runs a Hindi general entertainment channel 9X and a Bollywood music channel 9XM. The company is in talks to raise funds and has stopped airing fresh content on 9X.

Chhajlani runs a Hindi newspaper with a footprint in Madhya Pradesh and has also created web and new media assets. TV broadcasting was a missing piece in his media plan.

"We took over two months to value NewsX and found it a good pick. The English news space is not so cluttered and we were drawn in by the investments INX News had made into technology and infrastructure," Chhajlani says.

INX News had been talking to Rajeev Chandrasekhar's Jupiter Capital and Dainik Bhaskar promoters, but could not come to an agreement on the price.

Analysts closely tracking the sector say that Indi Media would not have paid much above the English news channel's set-up cost. Both Indrani and Peter could not be contacted to obtain their comments on the acquisition price.

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