Reliance Industries has denied reports of selling its news media business including Network18TV channels to Times Group.
A reporter of a global media company on Thursday reported that Mukesh Ambani is in talks to sell his news media assets to India’s Times Group, as the Media business has been losing money. Mukesh Ambani owns Network18 owns TV channels (including CNBCTV18, CNN-IBN, CNN Awaz), websites (firstpost.com, moneycontrol.com), magazines (including the license for Forbes India), entertainment channel (Colors and MTV) among other businesses.
“Reliance Industries firmly denies (the) story. The story is baseless and false,” a company spokesperson of Reliance Industries said. The report had quoted people familiar with the matter to say that Bennett Coleman & Co, the publisher of the Times of India, is looking to hire advisers for the deal. Talks are at an early stage and may not result in a deal, sources in know of things said. But speculations are high that more suitors may emerge in the coming days.
Reliance had in 2014 bought Network18, which owns and operates 56 local channels spanning news and entertainment, for up to ₹4,000 crore. Unlisted Bennett Coleman, also known as the Times Group, already has two news channels -- Times Now (for general news) and ET Now (the business news channel) which compete with Network18’s general news channel News18 and business news channel CNBCTV18.
TV18 Broadcast Ltd - the BSE-listed firm that houses the news channels - has a market cap of about ₹4,100 crore. Promoters hold 60.40 per cent interest in the company which had in the July-September quarter reported a net loss of ₹1.03 crore. It had a profit of ₹8.5 crore in 2018-19 fiscal. The weak advertising environment is the sole reason behind the decision to sell off media business, says a Business Analyst.