Mumbai: The Delhi Press Group, publisher of magazines such as The Caravan and Woman’s Era in English and the Hindi-language Sarita, Grihshobha and Champak, is in talks to buy 13-year-old men’s luxury magazine Man’s World as it seeks to expand its portfolio of titles, according to three people close to the development, two of whom asked not to be identified.
The publisher, founded in 1939, is also negotiating the purchase of rights to print the American music and pop culture fortnightly Rolling Stone in India; the local edition of the magazine is also published by the owner of Man’s World, Radhakrishnan Nair.
“We are a fast-growing media company looking for investments to maintain our pace of expansion. Towards that end, we have been talking to a variety of investors, both publishing houses as well as private individuals, over the past six months,” said Nair, who is also editor of Man’s World and Rolling Stone India.
Nair said, “Negotiations are ongoing. People we are talking to are looking at various aspects of our business, some are interested in all divisions, while others are interested in just the magazines.” The company also runs a division that organizes music concerts.
The other two people also said the talks with potential buyers are in the initial stages.
Man’s World was launched in 2000 by Anuradha Mahindra, wife of industrialist Anand Mahindra. Currently she is the editor-in-chief of Verve and IQ, The Indian Quarterly. In 2008, Mahindra also won the India franchise rights to publish Rolling Stone for a period of 10 years. However, nearly three years ago, Nair, the founding editor of Man’s World, bought out the magazine and the right to publish Rolling Stone in India from her.
Executives at Man’s World claim the luxury magazine has a circulation of 60,000 copies a month, while Rolling Stone sells 50,000 copies. Mint couldn’t independently verify these numbers.
Among Man’s World’s suitors is said to be a high networth individual, said one of the two people.
“In recent years, the downturn in advertising has impacted the magazines business in India. These magazines are finding it difficult to maintain their cash flows. Larger media houses are somewhat protected because their overheads get factored across their publications. Large publishing houses view this phase as an opportunity to strengthen their portfolio as specialized magazines have strong potential for growth,” added the second person.
On 4 April, Mint reported that Business Standard Ltd is selling its 17-year-old automobile magazine, Business Standard Motoring to the Delhi Press Group.
According to the Indian Readership Survey released by Media Research Users Council during the fourth quarter of 2012, of the top 10 English magazines, nine show a decline in average issue readership (AIR). The nine magazines are India Today (ranked No. 1), General Knowledge Today (2), Readers Digest (3), Competition Success Review (4), Outlook (5), The Week (7), Stardust (8), Business Today (9) and Wisdom (10). Only Pratiyogita Darpan, ranked sixth, recorded an increase in AIR during the quarter.
“Niche speciality magazines have the potential to grow in India due to several factors. These include healthy revenues from subscription unlike newspaper publishing where it is advertising dependant, no restrictions on foreign investment, and equal attractiveness on physical and digital platforms,” said Smita Jha, head (media and entertainment) at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
A 2013 media and entertainment report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and KPMG states that the overall magazine industry grew 1% in 2012, and was valued at Rs.1,300 crore. The revenue share of magazines in the print media was 6% of the Rs.22,400 crore that accrued to the medium last year.
The share of the magazine segment is estimated to remain at the same level even though the overall print media pie will increase to Rs.24,100 crore in 2013, according to the report.
The magazine industry’s share of revenue in the overall print industry is projected to drop to 4% of Rs.34,000 crore by 2017.
The Delhi Press Group, which publishes 32 magazines in nine languages, was founded in 1939 by the late Vishva Nath.