Television news channel NDTV on Friday told the Bombay Stock Exchange that there has been no change in its ownership, the same day several reports had said that SpiceJet’s owner would take over majority holding in the media company. “We wish to inform you [BSE] that the promoters of the Company have not entered into any agreement for sale of their stake in the Company to any person”, the channel’s statement said.
Earlier on Friday, The Indian Express reported that SpiceJet’s owner and co-founder Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV as he has bought a majority stake in the news channel. The deal was finalised at a sum of around Rs 600 crore, the report had said.
Later, a senior NDTV official had told The Hindu, “Not even a single sentence of these reports is true.” A SpiceJet official had also refuted the report, calling it “false and baseless”.
Singh was part of the core advertising team of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll campaign ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He is believed to be the mind behind the BJP’s “Abki Baar, Modi Sarkar” campaign slogan.
NDTV owners face CBI inquiry
The report came at a time when the founders of NDTV – Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and promoter firm RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd – are facing an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly laundering funds of Rs 403.85 crore to create interest in favour of a shell company.
NDTV’s promoter holding till June was at 61.45%, and public shareholding stood at 38.55%. The Indian Express report claimed that Singh will take control of around 40% stake, and the Roys will hold nearly 20% in the company. Singh will also pick up the channel’s debt of more than Rs 400 crore, according to the report.
The complaint against NDTV was filed by Sanjay Dutt, director of Quantum Services Private Limited. NDTV founder Radhika Roy and the channel’s Executive Chairperson Prannoy Roy have been accused of committing fraud and “causing wilful loss of over Rs 48 crores to ICICI Bank and the shareholders of NDTV. The bank is also accused of providing a discount on the interest payable on the loan.
In June, the CBI had conducted raids at Prannoy Roy’s houses in Delhi and Dehradun. In a statement released after the raids, NDTV had accused the CBI of “concerted harassment” of the channel and its promoters based on the “same old endless false accusations”.