New Delhi: Network18 Media & Investments Ltd, the company with interests in broadcasting, print, e-commerce and films, said on Thursday that its group chief executive Haresh Chawla had resigned.
Chawla has decided to pursue other interests, the firm said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange and the media.
Haresh Chawla, group CEO, Network18 Media & Investments Ltd
Over the next few months, Chawla will work closely with Raghav Bahl, the founder, controlling shareholder and managing director of Network18, and its young leadership team to “ensure a seamless transition of leadership,” Bahl said in the statement.
Chawla, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta, recalled in an email to colleagues that he had joined TV18 in 1999, when it was a “tiny Rs 15 crore production company...”. The email was seen by Mint.
A rapid scale-up in the last five years has created one of the biggest news networks in India with channels such as CNN IBN, Awaaz, IBN7 and IBN Lokmat. Through its joint venture with Viacom Inc., it also grew its entertainment business through Colors, MTV, Nick and Vh1 channels.
When asked about his reasons for moving out of Network18, Chawla responded that he did not want to say anything beyond what was written in the company statement. Bahl also did not want to comment on the exit beyond what he said in the statement.
Chawla’s departure follows two high-profile exits on the entertainment side of the business: Rajesh Kamat, CEO of Colors, quit in April, and Ashvini Yardi, the channel’s programming head, moved out last month.
For the last three years, Chawla has been closely involved with the Hindi entertainment business. During his stint, the firm acquired moneycontrol.com, a business and finance portal, launched Web18, news and views website FirstPost.com, Forbes magazine’s Indian edition and acquired and relaunched Newswire18, a financial news agency. Web18, part of Network18 Media & Investments Ltd, houses various web content properties.
The company has been burdened by higher production, distribution and staff costs. For the three months ended 30 September, Network18 widened its consolidated net loss to Rs 70.26 crore from Rs 64 crore in the previous quarter.
“The company has accumulated a debt of Rs 1,400 crore, its web business is not doing well and its general entertainment business is under pressure,” said an analyst who tracks the company. He declined to be identified, citing his company policy.
A former employee of the group said top-level management exits typically result from a falling-out with the promoters, but a person closely involved with business of the company dismissed such speculation.
“There is no question of any strategic differences,” the person said. He didn’t want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
PTI contributed to the story.