Home >Industry >Media >ABP finds buyer for ‘Businessworld’ magazine

Mumbai: ABP Pvt. Ltd is selling its Businessworld magazine to an “anonymous investor" represented in a recently concluded deal by media professional Anurag Batra and investment banker Vikram Jhunjhunwala for an undisclosed sum, the publisher said on Thursday.

“Anurag and Vikram are buying it for an investor whom I cannot name," Dipankar Das Purkayastha, ABP’s managing director and chief executive, said in a phone interview. “Businessworld won’t miss a single issue and there won’t be any job cuts." Batra runs—a media website—as its managing director and editor-in-chief. Jhunjhunwala is principal at Shrine Capital Advisors, an investment bank. Both are based in Delhi.

A statement issued by ABP on Thursday evening reiterated that Batra and Jhunjhunwala had bought the magazine on behalf of some “undisclosed investors".

“We have divested Businessworld. The brand and the publication will continue under the new owners with Prosenjit Datta as the editor," Purkayastha said in the statement.

A person familiar with the deal, however, said Batra had purchased Businessworld in his personal capacity and Jhunjhunwala would hold a minority stake.

“A special purpose vehicle will be created to bring in investments and acquire the magazine," said this person. He spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the deal are confidential. He declined to disclose the value of the deal.

Businessworld is an attractive purchase since it is a “clean, strong brand" built over three decades and the plan is to leverage the brand and its content digitally, said the same person. “The intention is to make sizeable investments over the next two to five years to make Businessworld the ultimate online destination for people, especially businessmen looking for business news, using multimedia elements like video," he said.

Businessworld, launched in 1981, has traditionally been a print magazine without a large presence online.

It wasn’t easy for ABP to find a buyer for its fortnightly business magazine, according to a key company official, who did not want to be identified. Like other ABP publications, Sunday and Sportsworld, before it, Businessworld, too, would have been closed had the company not found a buyer for this magazine.

The key problem was that ABP had decided to wash its hands of Businessworld, unlike other media companies such as the Network18 Group and Living Media India Ltd, which sold substantial stakes in themselves, directly or indirectly. Yet, the promoters of these two groups continue to run them.

“ABP wouldn’t have any rump stake in Businessworld, which means there was no safety net for the buyer," said a person who had considered buying the magazine, though very briefly. “If the projections went wrong, you couldn’t turn to anyone." This person, too, requested anonymity.

Ashesh Jani, partner at audit and consulting firm Deloitte Haskins and Sells, stated that it was becoming a trend in India for traditional print publications to be acquired with a view to leveraging the brand and content digitally, and this was in keeping with the global trend.

India still has a long way to go before readers start paying meaningfully for content available online and print would remain the primary medium for some more time, Jani said.

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