Disclaimer – The information in the article about the deal of NDTV and Reliance has been derived from various sources and we have tried our best to collect all the facts and come up with a clearer view of the case. The readers can go through the story and analyze the whole deal according to their point of view.
For a long time, a question might have been troubling a lot of people in the business space: Who really owns NDTV, Roys or Ambani?
NDTV founders Prannoy Roy, his wife Radhika Roy and their private holding company RRPR Holding raised a loan amounting to Rs 350 crore, without any interest, from Vishvapradhan Commercial (VCPL), a subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on 21st July 2009. It is said that in the form of a loan, this was basically an acquisition.
The company had raised the loan with the aim to repay the funding that the owner obtained from a bank. However, the two companies did not reveal the details about the acquired stake, which later came out to be 52 percent.
VCPL had taken a majority stake after advancing the loan to NDTV. The agreement signed by RRPR and the Roys with Vishvapradhan Commercial made it very clear that the Ambanis had complete control over them. But, it was not clear whether the group is the ultimate beneficial owner or not.
After this deal, market regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) ordered Vishvapradhan Commercial to make an open offer for NDTV, which it failed to do when it indirectly acquired majority part of NDTV in 2009. According to SEBI, Vishvapradhan had violated the regulator’s takeover norms, when it took over the stake through a convertible loan to RRPR. It stated that it was an unsecured loan without any interest payment.
SEBI assumed that the deal helped Vishvapradhan to take over 52 percent of NDTV shares in two ways: indirect acquisition of convertible warrants of the holding company. And, secondly by the purchase of a freely exercisable call option to buy 26 percent shares of NDTV. SEBI wanted a clarification on this matter as it was not clear whether VCPL has acquired NDTV or not.
NDTV claimed that Reliance neither has editorial control over the media house, nor any of the Reliance representatives sits on the board of directors of NDTV. Likewise, Reliance’s subsidiary Vishvapradhan also stated that it just provided a loan to NDTV and it does not have any control over it. However, SEBI concluded that this clearly is an indirect control over the media company.
Since a definite result could not be concluded, it may happen that the companies might have to go to the Supreme Court to resolve the matter. Reliance will definitely challenge this order because if the company will have to put forward an open offer, the company will have to pay up to Rs 700 crore.
Do you think Reliance will pay this amount? Well, we believe that the company will try every possible legal way available to them to avoid this situation.
With all the matters that have popped up after the deal, there are a few points that are quite clear regarding this:
– Firstly, NDTV did not follow the regulations of the law. It did not disclose to the SEBI that it took a loan from the Reliance subsidiary.
– Secondly, SEBI did not investigate into the matter with dedication. It did not check the facts and also was inactive when the deal took place in 2009.
– Reliance seems to be playing a game by having a control on the platform that is for as well as against the Indian government. And through this, it may manipulate these companies or the government in its favor.
– The Indian government seems to be trying to prove that they don’t give undue favors to anyone. However, on the other, the government is also trying to act against NDTV that is critical against the Indian government.