Bhaskar Group plans IPO that could make it largest print player

Bhaskar Group plans IPO that could make it largest print player

Bhaskar Group, the publisher of Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar and Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar, is planning to raise about Rs1,000 crore in an initial public offering (IPO) next year, diluting around 10% stake and potentially valuing the company at Rs10,000 crore.

“The valuation of the company could be much more than Rs10,000 crore," claimedGirish Agarwal, director, Bhaskar Group while declining to comment on media reports over the weekend on specifics of the IPO.

In 2006, private equity investor Warburg Pincus bought a 7% stake in Dainik Bhaskar for Rs150 crore, putting the valuation of the company at that time at Rs2,143 crore.

If the latest valuation talk turns into a reality, Bhaskar Group could vault way ahead of the current largest listed Indian print media company, HT Media Ltd, in terms of market capitalization. HT Media, which publishes Mint, went public in 2005 to initially raise about Rs400 crore and is currently valued at Rs5,781 crore.

The second largest listed print media company is Deccan Chronicle Ltd, with a market capitalization of Rs5,462 crore.

Bhaskar Group’s flagship Hindi newspaper, Dainik Bhaskar and the Gujarati newspaper Divya Bhaskar have a presence in nine states with 37 editions and have a total of 26.7 million readers.

Dainik Bhaskar, with an average issue readership of 12.8 million, is the second most-read newspaper in India, the first being Dainik Jagran, which has a readership of 16.5 million, according to the Indian Readership Survey 2007 Round Two.

Indian print media is the second largest chunk of Indian entertainment and media industry, behind television, and worth Rs43,700 crore, accounting for around 30% revenues of the industry, according to a report by Networth Stock Broking Ltd, a Mumbai-based brokerage firm.

The reach of newspapers in India as a proportion of reading population is estimated at around 27%, compared with the global average of 50%, indicating room for an increase in readership.

Print media in India reaches about 222 million, said the report.