New Delhi: NDTV is close to signing a deal with Time Warner for a majority stake in NDTV Imagine, its Hindi entertainment channel. A person familiar with the development confirmed that the talks with Time Warner are at an advance stage but declined to confirm if the company will exit the business completely. Time Warner could not be reached for a comment.
Currently, Sameer Nair, CEO of NDTV Imagine, holds nearly 10% equity while film producer Karan Johar, NDTV Imagine programming head Shailaja Kejariwal and a few others have smaller shares. NDTV Networks Plc holds 82% of the channel.
The company is also talking to US-based Scripps Network which operates several lifestyle and food channels, for a stake in its lifestyle venture which operates NDTV Goodtimes. NDTV will continue holding equity in the lifetsyle business, the person familiar with the deal said. Some days ago, NDTV informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that NBC Universal, the American media conglomerate, part of GE, had exited NDTV’s entertainment business.
NDTV, through its subsidiary NDTV BV had bought back its 26% stake from NBCU.
NDTV Networks raised $100 million in international bonds to launch its entertainment and lifestyle channels. It even got an investor NBCU, which picked a 26% stake in the channel for nearly Rs500 crore. Difficulties in paying the interest on the bonds and the approaching repayment deadline forced a rethink.
“The company realized that it was a news broadcaster and could not invest more money into the entertainment business,” said the person familiar with the situation. In fact, it talked to NBCU if another investor could be brought in. When NBCU did not agree, it bought back its share from NBCU and started negotiating with other foreign media companies.