TV18 to raise Rs 2 billion, open to print entry

MUMBAI: Raghav Bahl-promoted TV18 is raising Rs 2 billion through a fresh equity issue to fund its organic and inorganic expansion plans.

The company is keen to acquire a business newspaper, completing the chain across television channels, internet and print. Sources say TV18 is eyeing financial daily Business Standard where Uday Kotak is the largest shareholder and the others include Financial Times and Great Eastern Shipping.

TV18 has mandated HSBC and will raise Rs 2 billion through a qualified institutional placement (QIP). The funds are being kept ready as the company plans to expand its business and is also hunting for opportunities in new areas.

"We are going for a QIP issue of Rs 2 billion," confirms TV18 Group managing director Bahl. "We have several expansion plans. We are also looking at an opportunity in the business print space but nothing has come up," he adds, while defending against any suggestion of pursuing talks with Business Standard.

The QIP issue will involve a small dilution as regulations make it mandatory for Network 18, the holding company for TV18 and Global Broadcast News (GBN), to own at least 51 per cent in the news ventures. The current holding of Network 18 in TV18 is 53 per cent while in GBN it is 57 per cent (post-IPO).

Network 18 also has non core TV businesses in Studio 18 and Shop 18. The company expects Studio 18, which is engaged in movie business, to rake in a revenue of Rs 1 billion in the first full year of operations. The plan is to produce a movie every month. In Shop 18, the 24-hour television network dedicated to home shopping, trial runs have been conducted and the call centres are coming into place.

Network 18 has already raised a debt of Rs 700 million which will take care of its current funding needs, the source says while not ruling out further fund raising exercises in future.

TV18 houses two business channels, CNBC TV18 and CNBC Awaaz, a clutch of internet properties, financial wire service Crisil Marketwire (which was recently acquired and renamed Newswire 18) and an e-broking venture with partners.

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