Infomedia stake gives Network18 toehold in print

Infomedia stake gives Network18 toehold in print

Mumbai: Network18 aims to be an “unbeatable" player in the media business and a controlling stake in Infomedia India Ltd will help the media group fill in a critical gap— print media—in its portfolio spread over television, new media and filmed entertainment, its top executive officer said a day after the acquisition.

“If we combine the valuable assets and the national footprint of Infomedia with TV18’s strength in audience franchise and new media, we will be an unbeatable combination in the media space," said Haresh Chawla, group chief executive officer, Network18. On Tuesday, the group bought a 40% stake in Infomedia India, formerly known as Tata Infomedia Ltd, and known for its business and telephone directory, Yellow Pages. Network18, which made the deal through group firm TV18, will make an offer for another 20% stake in Infomedia, mandated under Indian takeover rules.

Through Infomedia, Network18 will get ownership of several running and successful publications: Auto Monitor, Chemical World and a children’s magazine Bright Sparks, besides publishing Yellow Pages. Recently, it tied up with Switzerland’s Ringier Group to publish in India five trade magazines. “We will add more titles to this portfolio and add value into areas wherever needed to make it a leading play in the print space," said Chawla.

Special interest magazines make for a growing segment, with many new players keenly looking at the space. Advertising for such publications is estimated at between Rs300 crore and Rs400 crore a year.

Infomedia, with offices in 22 cities in India, has other diverse businesses in printing and publishing outsourcing, direct marketing and corporate gifting solutions, and print management services. An analyst said that at Rs178 crore, the acquisition of the firm, with annual sales of around Rs200 crore and market capitalization of Rs470 crore, is not an expensive deal. “There are not too many sound, profitable and scalable print opportunities available in the market. Infomedia’s directory and publications businesses have been growing around 15% and 30%, respectively, which is quite impressive by industry standards," said a Mumbai analyst, requesting anonymity.

Shares of Infomedia closed on Wednesday at Rs244 each, down 5.37%, whereas the TV18 scrip went up 0.63%, to Rs488.