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Media mergers and deals in 2014

While the first half of 2014 hardly saw any action in terms of mergers and acquisitions, the second half saw a flutter of activity in many sectors as the market sentiment improved following the formation of the BJP-led government at the Centre.

The euphoria in the market was reflected in the stock exchanges and both NSE and BSE started climbing, giving hope for companies to revisit their respective IPO plans, something that was on the back-burner for some time.

In fact, the last leg of the year, the month of December, could easily be considered as the busiest month with a host of deals, acquisitions and IPO plans.

One of the biggest acquisitions that shook the whole broadcasting sector during the year was by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), via its Independent Media Trust (IMT), took complete control of Raghav Bahl-founded Network18 and TV18 group. This also resulted in quick and unceremonious exits of top management and senior editorial staff. Bahl exited as a shareholder in both these outfits.

Mukesh’s younger brother Anil was trying to slowly get out of some loss-making businesses. In December, Reliance ADA (Anil Dhirubhai Ambani) Group’s film and entertainment services company Reliance MediaWorks (RMW) entered into an agreement with Carnival Cinemas to sell its theatrical business under brand Big Cinemas for around Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion).

Earlier, with its net worth completely eroded, the company was delisted from the bourses, and later in July, a merger of RMW’s film and media services business with Prime Focus Ltd (PFL) was announced.

The multi-layered deal includes the infusion of Rs 120 crore (Rs 1.20 billion) by the Reliance entity into PFL for a 30.2 per cent stake, while PFL’s existing promoters will pump in a comparable amount through preferential equity shares. The new entity is structured in such a manner as to allow the existing and incumbent acquirer the leeway to consolidate their holding in the company, and at the same time, provide an exit route to non-promoter shareholders of the company.

Following the merger, the entity will have PFL’s existing promoters Namit Malhotra, Naresh Malhotra and wholly-owned company Monsoon Studio Pvt Ltd (MSPL), as well as RMWL and Reliance Land Pvt Ltd (RLPL), as majority shareholders. The fully diluted shareholding of PFL’s promoters and RMWL will be 33.5 per cent and 30.2 per cent respectively.

The FM radio space, which is waiting for the FM Phase III auctions, saw the acquisition of Radio City by print major Jagran Prakashan Ltd (JPL). Jagran surprised many in the industry with the timing of the deal, as the Phase III auctions are finally expected to be conducted early next year. The deal size, according to a source, is Rs 432 crore (Rs 4.32 billion).

Key milestones:

  • Mukesh Ambani takes complete control of Network18 and TV18 as RIL’s board approves funding of Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RIL is the sole beneficiary, for taking over Network18. IMT would use the funds to acquire control over Network18 and TV 18, resulting in ownership of about 78 per cent in Network18 and 9 per cent in TV18, and to acquire shares tendered in the open offer.
  • Anil Ambani’s exit from theatrical business by selling Big Cinemas to Carnival Group for Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion).
  • Merger of Anil Ambani’s film and media services business with Prime Focus Ltd.
  • Jagran Prakashan’s acquisition of Radio City for an estimated Rs 432 crore.
  • Carnival buys HDIL’s multiplex business Broadway Cinemas in July.
  • Inox Leisure acquires Delhi-based Satyam Cineplexes Ltd for nearly Rs 240 crore (Rs 2.4 billion).
  • Cinepolis buys out Essel Group’s E-City Venture-owned Fun Cinemas.
  • Star India completes acquisition of regional entertainment network Asianet Communications. Takes residuary 13% stake for around $50 mn in the fourth quarter of the fiscal ended 30 June 2014
  • TV18 Broadcast completes ETV stake acquisition.
  • Balaji Teleflms acquires 51% stake in Marinating Films.
  • Balaji Telefilms forges JV with Select Media for film and TV award shows.
  • Atria hikes stake in Beam Telecom to 80%.
  • Eros announces plan to acquire controlling stake in mobile VAS company Techzone.
  • Vikram Malhotra”s Abundantia Entertainment gets undisclosed funding from RW Media and Singapore-based Callista Capital. The two investors will hold 49.9%.
  • News Corp acquires 25% stake in Indian real estate platform PropTiger.
  • B4U sets up $100-million JV with Relativity Media LLC for films and TV production.
  • Kantar announces acquisition of BARC-contracted audio watermarking unit of Civolution.
  • News Corp acquires Mumbai-based start-up BigDecisions.com.
  • FremantleMedia Asia forms drama JV with India’s DJ’s Creative Unit.


  • Shemaroo Entertainment’s Rs 120-crore IPO sails through.
  • Videocon d2h files for Rs 700 crore IPO.
  • Odisha’s leading MSO Ortel Communications files with SEBI for IPO with total utilisation of Rs 103.8 crore (Rs 1.04 billion).
  • UFO Movies files for Rs 750 crore IPO; Providence, 3i to sell stake
  • Homeshop18 withdraws $75 million NYSE IPO.
  • Eros International’s IPO hits the US market.

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