No conclusions on Star deal says Hindustan Times' Bhartiya

NEW DELHI: ,-owned Hindustan Times Ltd, is keeping all its options open, including a deal with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star India, but said no "conclusions" have been reached yet.

"We are aware of the developments," Hindustan Times (HT) vice chairman and Birla's daughter Sobhana Bhartiya said when asked about the media reports on a HT-Star truck.

Asked specifically if HT and Star have been talking to each other formally on a possible joint venture for Star News channel, Bhartiya, said, "No conclusions have been reached." She also pointed out that Star has been talking to many people regarding a joint venture. She was answering questions from journalists after a meeting with information and broadcasting (I&B) secretary Pawan Chopra this evening.

Asked whether Henderson Global Investment has picked up 20 per cent stake in HT Media, Bhartiya confirmed the development. However, she did not specify whether the investment was meant only for HT's proposed Mumbai edition or for the whole group.

Interestingly, while Bhartiya was meeting the I&B secretary on the sixth floor of Shastri Bhawan, which houses among other ministries the I&B ministry too, arch rival Vineet Jain of Times of India was part of a media delegation that was closeted with I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, on the floor below.

Bhartiya also said that the investment of Henderson was in line with the guidelines prescribed by the Indian government. She, however, did not specify whether an application to this regard has been moved with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

Just for records, Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer has some investments in Henderson.

Earlier, a section of the media had speculated on the fact that Murdoch was picking up a minority stake in HT. In turn, these reports had said , 51 per cent of Star News was being offered to HT and/or Bhartiyas so that the news channel could conform to guidelines and avoid further controversies that had been hounding Star News for some time. The deal was supposed to have been struck in London.

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