Chennai: Sun TV Network Ltd paid promoters Kalanithi Maran and his wife, Kaveri Kalanithi, Rs 128.8 crore (Rs 64.4 crore each) in the year ended March, nearly double what they got the previous year. The Marans were already considered the highest-paid executives in corporate India when they earned about Rs 74 crore (Rs 37 crore each) in 2009-10.
According to the company’s annual report for 2010-11, the remuneration paid to Kalanithi Maran included a salary of Rs 10.86 crore with an ex-gratia and bonus of Rs 53.54 crore. The pay structure for his wife is the same. The Sun TV remuneration committee consists entirely of independent directors.
Kalanithi Maran, chairman and managing director (CMD), and Kaveri Kalanithi, joint managing director (JMD), own a 77% stake in the company. Foreign institutional investors held 13.48%, domestic institutional investors 2% and others 7.52% as of 30 June. Sun TV’s shares closed at Rs 303.10 on BSE on Friday, up 0.73%. The benchmark Sensex closed at 16,821.46 points, up 0.87%.
The Marans were reappointed as CMD and JMD with effect from 15 December 2010 through an ordinary resolution passed by a postal ballot dated 29 October 2010. The firm’s net profit grew 36% to Rs 772 crore in 2010-11 on revenue from services of Rs 1,923 crore.
During the last fiscal year, Kalanithi Maran took over Gurgaon-based SpiceJet Ltd through Kal Airways Pvt. Ltd, becoming chairman of the low-fare carrier in November. Subsequently, he has been buffeted by political turbulence, with J. Jayalalithaa taking over as chief minister of Tamil Nadu in May. She has revived Arasu Cable TV Corp. Ltd to undermine the near monopoly of the Marans-owned Sun Cable Vision (formerly Sumangali Cable Vision) in the cable business in the state.
Meanwhile, brother Dayanidhi Maran has been battling allegations that he misused his position to benefit Sun TV during his tenure as telecom minister, forcing him to quit as textile minister. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has probed accusations that the former minister arm-twisted entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran into selling Aircel Ltd to Malaysia-based Maxis Communications Bhd before awarding 14 telecom licences. Maxis then made an investment of Rs 600 crore through Astro in Sun Direct, the direct-to-home arm of Sun TV as a quid pro quo, according to the allegation.
Dayanidhi Maran has denied that he indulged in any wrongdoing, and CBI has said it has found no evidence for the coercion of Sivasankaran. The agency has said, however, that it’s yet to conclude its inquiry. Maran is also facing allegations that he used his clout to set up a telephone exchange for Sun TV.
Kalanithi Maran’s companies have seen their stocks getting hit over the issues facing his brother. Besides this, his firms have been facing criminal proceedings over various cases related to film distribution in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa came to power.
Sun TV subsidiaries Kal Radio Ltd and South Asia FM, which together own 41 licences and 40 radio stations across India, cut their loss to Rs 1.6 crore from Rs 39 crore, on revenue of Rs 87 crore during the fiscal year, according to the annual report. Both companies were fully operational for the year under review.
With the FM subsidiaries close to break-even, Sun TV’s profitability will improve, said an Angel Broking Ltd analyst who tracks media.
Sun TV appointed Global Media Management Llc and World Media Connect Llc in 2010-11 to boost advertising and subscription revenue from the US and Canada. The firm is looking to increase its reach among people of south Indian origin in North America.
The UK subsidiary, Sun Network Europe Ltd, which broadcasts and distributes its channels in the continent, has started earning revenue. The unit narrowed its losses to Rs 2.8 crore from Rs 8.05 crore, on revenue of Rs 13.4 crore in 2010-11.
Sun TV currently has a presence in Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Asia, Australia and New Zealand.