New Delhi: Media conglomerate Network18 Media and Investments Ltd’s chief executive officer (CEO) B. Sai Kumar has resigned, the company said in a filing to the BSE. Chief operating officer (COO) Ajay Chacko has also resigned, said a senior employee at the company.

The moves lend credence to speculation rife for at least a month that significant changes would be made at the company that is effectively controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd.

Speculation has also centred on the possible exit of founder and chairman Raghav Bahl, and senior editors including Rajdeep Sardesai, the editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN.

Mint couldn’t immediately confirm these other departures. Bahl remained unavailable for comment (both did not respond to several phone calls). Sardesai did not confirm or deny the news.

Sardesai is expected to go on a sabbatical for nearly two months, starting later this week, an employee at the company claimed. Mint couldn’t independently verify this.

In a press release, Bahl said: “It’s not easy to describe Sai’s role and contribution to the group. He has been one of the key pillars of the Network18 story... Needless to say the Network18 family and I shall miss him dearly. But there comes a time in life when one takes a heed to ones’s calling and I wish Sai all the best for that."

Network18 is one of India’s most diversified media conglomerates and has a presence in news and entertainment channels, movie production, print media and digital (including both e-commerce and content).

Kumar, 39, was considered a whiz kid within and without the company. In a farewell e-mail, a copy of which has been seen by Mint, he fondly recalls Bahl’s “vision, guidance and unwavering support" and says that he knows he has “been part of something incredible".

Kumar could not be reached for a comment. He didn’t respond to phone calls or text messages.

The company made no formal announcement of the departure of Chacko. The senior employee who confirmed his resignation didn’t want to be named.

In August, Network18 restructured its news operations and cut its workforce by 30% in a move that may have been as motivated by moving to an integrated newsroom as it was by pressure from Ambani to cut headcount and costs.

Shares of Network 18 rose 6.7% to 42.15 on BSE on Wednesday. The benchmark Sensex ended barely changed at 24,556.09 points.

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