Gautam Adani in hostile bid for news channel NDTV

Gautam Adani in hostile bid for news channel NDTV

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.Image source, Reuters

Asia’s richest man Gautam Adani is seeking to take over Indian news broadcaster New Delhi Television, which is widely known as NDTV.

It comes as the multi-billionaire moved to take a majority stake in the firm.

NDTV says this “was executed without any input from, conversation with, or consent” of the company’s founders.

Mr Adani’s bid for NDTV, which operates TV channels and websites, has drawn attention because he is seen as being close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a statement on Tuesday, AMG Media Networks Limited (AMNL), a unit of Adani Group, said it planned to buy RRPR Holding – which owns owns 29.18% of NDTV – for an undisclosed amount.

AMNL added that it would also launch an open offer for another 26% of NDTV, which if successful would give it a majority stake of the news outlet.

The takeover was “a significant milestone in the journey of AMNL’s goal to pave the path of new age media across platforms,” AMNL chief executive Sanjay Pugalia said.

“AMNL seeks to empower Indian citizens, consumers and those interested in India, with information and knowledge,” Mr Pugalia added.

“With its leading position in news and its strong and diverse reach across genres and geographies, NDTV is the most suitable broadcast and digital platform to deliver on our vision,” he added.

Responding to the bid, NDTV said it was only made aware of Mr Adani’s intentions on Tuesday.

“NDTV has never compromised on the heart of its operations – its journalism. We continue to proudly stand by that journalism,” the company said in a statement. The group operates three national channels and news websites.

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Adani Group did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment on Wednesday.

Mr Adani has a net worth of $135bn (£114.3bn) and is the richest man in Asia, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Analysis by Archana Shukla, India business correspondent

In a television news market which has increasingly been taken over by corporates, NDTV has stood its ground.

Founded by media barons Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy, who are journalists themselves, NDTV is seen as one of the few media groups that often takes a critical view of Mr Modi’s government and its policies.

Unsurprisingly, NDTV has often been in the crosshairs of Mr Modi’s administration and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Since he came to power in 2014, NDTV has faced a number of charges – from money laundering to tax evasion.

The country’s investigative agencies – the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the income tax department – have slapped multiple cases against the broadcaster and its founders. Most of these are still unresolved.

NDTV has also been criticised of cosying up to the opposition political party, the Congress.

BJP representatives have at times refused to participate in interviews and panel discussions on NDTV to protest against its editorial policies.

Mr Modi, who has not held a press conference since he became prime minister, has given rare interviews to select media channels, but has never appeared on NDTV.

Mr Adani is considered close to the prime minister and his party. That has raised questions as to whether there is more to the takeover plan than just expanding his business empire.

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