Reliance Industries said it will spend Rs 4,000 crore to acquire control of Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd, the owner of the CNN IBN channel and sister concerns like CNBC TV18, IBN 7, Firstpost.com etc.
The Mukesh Ambani firm will make open offer to acquire shares held by minority shareholders in Network18.
The acquisition would be routed through Independent Media Trust or IMT.
“IMT would use the funds to acquire control over NW18 and TV18 resulting in ownership of about 78% in NW18 and 9% in TV18 and to acquire shares tendered in the Open Offers,” Reliance Industries said.
RIL will also offer to buy out shareholders of TV18 and Infomedia Press Ltd.
The resignation of the three top officials of Network18 in two days had led to speculation that something was afoot.
RIL has already built up a strong media team in anticipation of the move.
It was not clear what the status of Network18 founder Raghav Behl would be in the new arrangement. Behl had approached Reliance Industries several years ago for support after rapid expansion pushed Network18 to the brink of bankruptcy. Reliance Industries’ promoter Mukesh Ambani is India’s richest businessman.
“This acquisition will differentiate Reliance’s 4G business by providing a unique amalgamation at the intersect of telecom, web and digital commerce via a suite of premier digital properties. This suite includes In.com, IBNLive.com, Moneycontrol.com, Firstpost.com, Cricketnext.in, Homeshop18.com, Bookmyshow.com; the broadcast channels include Colors, CNN IBN, CNBC TV18, IBN7, CNBC Awaaz,” Reliance Industries said.
There are rumors that Rajdeep Sardesai, chief editor of CNN IBN may also step down in a month. Suhasini Haidar, daughter of Subramanian Swamy, has already stepped down, as has Karan Thapar, in anticipation of the changes going in the group. Medianama has put together this list of RIL’s media team.