MUMBAI: We predicted that the executive exodus at Network18 was a precursor to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) engineering an acquisition. (Read: More Network18 senior management to exit as Reliance begins to take full control) of the Raghav Bahl led Network18 Media.
And it has turned out to be true. RIL, late this evening, announced to the BSE that it has got board approval to pump in Rs 4,000 crore into the Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RIL is the sole beneficiary, for acquisition of control in Network18 Media & Investments Ltd (NW18), including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd (TV18) and the open offers to be made consequent to the acquisition.
NW18, as is known is the owner of a premier suite of digital internet properties, ecommerce businesses, and differentiated broadcast content.
IMT is expected to use the funds to acquire control over NW18 and TV18 resulting in the ownership of about 78 per cent in the former and 9 per cent in the latter and to acquire shares tendered in the open offers.
Further in terms of SEBI (substantial acquisition and takeover regulations) 2011, IMT would be making an open offer to public shareholders for acquisition of NW18, TV18 and Infomedia Press Ltd equity shares. IMT would be simultaneously making a public announcement under takeover regulations. RIL would be a person acting in concert to the open offers.
The acquisition will help differentiate the RIL 4G business, says the press release, by providing a unique amalgamation at the intersect of telecom, web and digital commerce via a suite of premier digital properties. The suite includes: in.com, IBNLive.com, Moneycontrol.com, firstpost.com, cricketnext.in, HomeShop18, bookmyshow.com. The broadcast channels include: Colors, CNNIBN, CNBCTV18, IBN7 and CNBC Awaaz.
“It was bound to happen,” says a media observer. “Mukesh Ambani has made a huge 4G play. He needs content to be pumped over the network to make the 4G investment pay off more, because consumers need video on 4G. By acquiring the NW18 and TV18 properties, he’s got a quick entry into the content and ecommerce space. However, RIL, which, is very financially driven, will do well to leave the content creators alone and not try and force too much financial efficiencies onto them. If they do allow the creative to flow with some financial caution as is the practice in NW18 and TV18 group, then they could well have a robust, differentiated content business. Otherwise…”