NDTV holding may have been discounted

NDTV holding may have been discounted

New Delhi: Indian media company New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV), through its subsidiary NDTV Networks BV, may have bought back the 26% share that NBC Universal Inc. held in NDTV Networks Plc at a discount to the original sale price. According to US website Businessinsider.com, NBC will get $25 million (Rs115.75 crore) for its entire 26% stake in the firm. The website said: “While no price has been officially announced, a source tells us NBC is only getting $25 million. In January 2008, NBC paid $150 million for the stake." NBC declined to comment on the details of the transaction. Denise Basset, vice-president, communications, NBC, wrote: “We cannot disclose the price as this is confidential information." NDTV also declined to comment on the deal size.

“NBC obviously gave the shares back to NDTV at a very discounted price. It was clear that NDTV’s entertainment business would have taken longer to break even," said Nikhil Vora, managing director of financial services firm IDFC SSKI. “It would have required more investments from both the parties. NBC, however, did not want to expand its base in India. Over a period of time, NBC will come back to India. We have to see what route it takes."

Meanwhile, NDTV is in talks to sell a stake in NDTV Networks Plc to Time Warner Inc., a person familiar with the negotiations said on condition of anonymity. Analysts say the company is probably looking to sell a majority stake in its entertainment business under NDTV Networks Plc.

Time Warner already has a presence in the country through Turner International, which in December 2007 formed a 50:50 venture to launch entertainment channels in Hindi and other Indian languages with production house Miditech Pvt. Ltd.

Vora said the entry of another global broadcaster as an investor is a strong possibility.

NDTV Imagine would become stronger if it manages to secure investment.

NDTV Imagine chief executive Sameer Nair, “who is a very strong programmer, will get a second life", said the CEO of a rival Hindi channel asking that neither he nor his channel be identified. “Competition from NDTV Imagine cannot be taken lightly if the money comes in."