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ZEEL completes acquisition of India Webportal

MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra-led Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) has taken full ownership of its subsidiary India Webportal, a digital property which operates websites such as India.com, Cricketcountry.com, Bollywoodlife.com, OnCars.in, BGR.in, Thehealthsite.com, Prepsure.com, Careerfundas.com, Travel.india.com and Video.india.com.

ZEEL has completed the acquisition by acquiring the balance 49% equity stake (12.20 crore shares) in India Webportal after the approval of its board of directors. The requisite formalities have been completed.

Last month, ZEEL had agreed to acquire the remaining 49% stake in India Webportal for $30.7 million (Rs 200 crore) to take full ownership of the digital asset. ZEEL’s complete acquisition of India Webportal contradicts its earlier decision to induct a strategic investor as an additional partner. ZEEL was willing to reduce its stake to below 51%.

“We have acquired the balance 49% stake in India Webportal, which is the third ranked online content publisher in the country. It operates a suite of websites focusing on different genres including news, sports and entertainment. Being one of the fastest growing digital networks, it gives us an opportunity to reach and understand digital consumers through its various offerings. The acquisition is part of our strategy to strengthen the digital presence,” said ZEEL managing director & CEO Punit Goenka.

India Webportal was floated as a joint venture between ZEEL and US digital media publisher Penske Media Corporation in 2010. Penske owned 44% stake in India Webportal through MMC Investments Holding Company. The balance 5% stake is held by Ashok Kurien, a non-executive director at ZEEL.

In FY17, India Webportal reported a loss of Rs 13.8 crore compared to a profit of Rs 2.6 crore a year ago. Total income stood at Rs 64.7 crore, down from Rs 71.7 crore in FY16.

ZEEL said that India Webportal, which acts as its digital arm, has the potential to consolidate and scale up the digital business.

Consolidating its digital business, ZEEL had decided in March to acquire an 80% stake in tech start-up Margo Networks for Rs 75 crore. ZEEL’s OTT platforms comprise dittoTV and OZEE.

The Zee Group also runs news websites such as zeenews.com and dnaindia.com through Zee Media Corporation Ltd.

ZEEL has acquired a 12.5% stake in Bangalore-based Tagos Design Innovations, an in-video discovery platform, for $2.5 million (Rs 16.15 crore). The stake buy in Tagos will help ZEEL scale up revenues of its over-the-top (OTT) business. Tagos’ flagship product is Charmboad, a platform that allows users to put a visual bookmark within videos, TV and movies.

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