Television

Roys buy back 7.7% NDTV stake from GA Global Investments for Rs 1.9 billion

MUMBAI: New Delhi Television Ltd's founder-promoters Dr Prannoy and Radhika Roy have paid around Rs 1.92 billion to buy 7.73 per cent stake from GA (General Atlantic) Global Investments, increasing their stake in the news media major to 61 per cent.

Meanwhile, 7.67 per cent of NDTV shares were pledged with Indiabulls Financial Services. "It seems NDTV promoters have pledged their shares while also making a 7.73 per cent (4.8 million equity shares) market purchase from GA Global Investments," says a source.

The foreign holding in NDTV has dropped to around three per cent after the purchase of GA Global Investments by the promoters. The government regulation stipulates that news channels uplinking from India can have a maximum of 26 per cent foreign holding.

"The promoters wanted to increase their stake as it would provide them some space to dilute when they want to. After doling out ESOPs, the promoter holding would have fallen from 53.2 to 51 per cent. The government regulation asks promoters to hold at least 51 per cent in the news venture," says the source.

The purchase also allows foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and NRIs to acquire that many shares more in NDTV till the ceiling of 26 per cent is reached.

The promoters had announced in late 2005 their intent to transfer 15 per cent of their stake to daughter Tara Roy who is a non-resident Indian. But the proposal has still not received regulatory approval.

"If the proposal to gift 15 per cent still stands, it will limit NDTV's opportunity to get in a foreign strategic investor. But if that is dropped, then the equations change," says an analyst with a global broking firm.

The analyst also points out that NDTV's general and business news channels are held in the same company. "In case of TV18 Group, it is housed in two separate entities with Global Broadcast News (GBN) holding the general news space," he adds.

Following the market purchase, the promoters of NDTV have made an open offer to acquire 20 per cent equity in the company at a price of Rs 438.98 per share. "This is part of the Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) regulation for promoters who increase their stake by over 5 per cent in a financial year. The pricing fixed by the promoters is not aggressive for shareholders to offload. But if they manage to mop up more shares at that price, it will be good," says the analyst.

NDTV shares closed on Monday at Rs 462.60 on the BSE, up 0.6 per cent from the previous close.

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