As of early January of this year, companies associated with Gautam Adani, India’s richest man, have acquired a majority share in the TV news network NDTV. As of January 3, Adani entities held a share of 64.71 percent in the company, The Hindu reports.
What was initially described as a hostile takeover began with an announcement in August that Adani had purchased a company that gave him the power to instantly take over a 29 percent stake in NDTV and subsequently acquire more of it. Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited had been created in 2009 as a vehicle for an interest-free loan to NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy by Reliance Industries. As part of the deal, VCPL was given considerable power over NDTV. Reliance never exercised these rights, but Adani was apparently keen on it. He expanded his share in NDTV through an open offer to shareholders from 29.2 percent to 37.5 percent – more than the Roy’s share of 32.3 percent. In December, the couple announced that they would sell the majority of their shares – save a combined 5 percent - to Adani as well.
Before conceding to Adani, NDTV had tried to resist the takeover and also published some strongly worded statements. According to Reuters, the ownership change has raised fears about the independence of Indian media outlets. Adani, like other members of the business elite, has been accused of having an all too close relationship with the Indian government. Last week, a dossier published by financial research company Hindenburg even accused the billionaire of having built his wealth on manipulation and fraud. Adani himself said that he pursued the NDTV takeover to help establish an internationally renowned news source out of India.
In contrast to NDTV, figures published by News Laundry show that TV Today Network – part of the India Today Group and home to such TV news channels as Aaj Tak and India Today Television – is still in large parts owned by the public and its founders. While the Roy family through different entities holds 34.8 percent of it, 41.5 percent is public stock.