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Will Sanjiv Goenka acquire Aditya Birla Group’s stake in Living Media?

MUMBAI: The market buzz is that RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group is in talks to buy out Aditya Birla Group’s stake in Aroon Purie-controlled Living Media India Ltd.

The Aditya Birla Group, which had bought 27.5% stake in Living Media in 2012, has increased its holding. The stake upped to 41.5% in FY16, a source said. He, however, could not confirm if this was further increased.

During FY16, as part of the share subscription and purchase agreement, a part of equity in Living Media owned by the India Today group was extinguished, thereby increasing the stake of the Aditya Birla group to 41.5%.

Living Media is a holding company and has diverse business interests, including magazines, radio stations and TV channels like Aaj Tak and India Today Television. It owns 57.42% stake in the listed entity TV Today Network.

Sanjiv Goenka and Aroon Purie did not respond to telephonic calls till the filing of this report.

Earlier, Goenka had said that the group was in talks to acquire a media company without naming the firm.

The group currently publishes Open, a weekly current affairs and features magazine, and owns SaReGaMa besides having diverse business interests spanning power, infrastructure, retail and IT.

Living Media’s operating profit was Rs 72 million in the six months ended 30 September 2016, as against Rs 12 million a year ago.

In FY16, the company’s net loss was Rs 1.9 billion on operating income of Rs 2.9 billion. In FY15, net loss was at Rs 1.2 billion on an operating income of Rs 3.2 billion.

In FY16, Living Media provided for impairment in the value of its investments of up to Rs 1.1 billion and loans and advances to group companies of up to Rs 68 crore, Crisil said in its rating outlook.