Industrialist Gautam Adani on Friday said he sees taking over media house NDTV as a responsibility rather than a business opportunity, reported the Financial Times on Friday.
Adani Group, a ports-to-energy conglomerate, had announced in August that it will acquire 29.18% stake in NDTV through its subsidiary company Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited. This stake is held by NDTV co-founders Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy through promoter company, Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy Private Limited.
NDTV had said that the takeover was done without the consent or any sort of notice served to Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy.
The takeover bid has raised concerns that a change in NDTV’s ownership could undermine its independence. NDTV has been critical of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is considered close the Adani Group founder.
However, in his interview with the Financial Times, Adani dismissed these concerns.
“Independence means if government has done something wrong, you say it’s wrong,” he told the British daily. “But at the same time, you should have courage when the government is doing the right thing every day. You have to also say that.”
The billionaire also claimed that he had invited Prannoy Roy to remain as chair of the news channel.
Adani’s wealth has grown substantially over the last few years making him the third richest person in the world. The Adani Group has diversified its interests in the last few years from coal and ports and expanded into defence, urban water management, small and medium sector lending, power transmission, airports, data centers and cement and green energy sectors.
Now, the billionaire wants to expand abroad into media and consumer sectors, according to the Financial Times.
“Why can’t you support one media house to become independent and have a global footprint?” he told the newspaper. “India does not have one single [outlet] to compare to Financial Times or Al Jazeera.”
Adani Group’s acquisition of NDTV stake
On August 23, AMG Media Networks Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, bought 100% of the equity stakes in Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited, or VCPL for Rs 113.74 crore.
In 2009, VCPL had given a loan of Rs 403.85 crore to NDTV. According to the terms of the loan, the company held the right to exercise its warrants and convert the loan amount into equity shares – which it did after being brought by the Adani Group.
The media company has also written to the Securities and Exchange Board of India, asking the markets regulator to determine if its 2020 order barring its promoters from making any deals in the securities market restricts the Adani Group from acquiring its shares.