New Delhi: The five-year-old financial relationship between London-based Pearson Plc, the company that publishes the Financial Times (FT), and Business Standard Ltd, the Indian publisher of the Business Standard (BS) business daily, is officially over.
On Friday, confirming a 10 March story in Mint, Business Standard said in a brief Page 1 note: “Infina Finance Private Ltd, an associate of the Kotak Mahindra Group, has acquired the 13.85% stake in Business Standard Ltd from Pearson...” Terms were not disclosed.
Parting ways: Network 18 has been keen on adding a financial daily to its ever expanding media empire.
The September 2003 deal, in which Pearson paid Rs14.1 crore for the stake, marked the first equity partnership between an Indian and a foreign news publishing company. But the relationship soured fairly quickly. Pearson, which is understood to be keen to have a greater presence in the booming Indian media sector, will now form a joint venture with the diversified media group Network 18 Media and Investments Ltd to launch a business daily, according to a person close to the development who didn’t want to be identified.
The person said internal targets are to launch the new title by the end of 2008, adding that there is “excitement and even impatience” on both sides to get the project going as early as “logistics would permit”.
Under Indian laws, the maximum equity stake a foreign partner can have in a newspaper publishing venture is 26%.
In a related development, there is mounting speculation that Jaideep Bose, executive editor of The Times of India, has been hired for the proposed Network 18-FT venture.
At least two persons close to the development said Bose, known among media professionals as Jojo, has put in his papers at Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL). They, however, added that the company was still trying to convince him to stay back.
Bose, a well-regarded editor in the industry, has been with BCCL for about two decades where he has edited The Economic Times as well.
“I have just come back from Chennai after successfully launching the paper (The Times of India),” said Bose. “I am very much with the Times. I have no comments (on the buzz on my departure)”.
Network 18 has been keen on adding a financial daily to its ever expanding media empire that has interests across broadcast, Internet, film production and distribution sectors, among others. Network 18 chief executive Haresh Chawla declined a comment for this story.
Meanwhile, the Business Standard, which will have access to the FT content through 2008, is taking steps to shore up its international coverage by setting up foreign bureaus, starting with Geneva.
Mint, published by HT Media Ltd, competes with the Business Standard and The Economic Times.
Mint has an exclusive content partnership with The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp. Pearson and News Corp. compete globally.