Congress' Jairam Ramesh on Gautam Adani's 'hostile takeover' of NDTV
Adani Group has several publicly listed companies in sectors including airports and ports, power generation and transmission, coal and gas trading.
India's opposition leaders on Wednesday expressed concern over billionaire Gautam Adani's takeover bid for popular New Delhi Television (NDTV) with an indirect acquisition of a 29.18 per cent stake in the media giant followed by an offer to buy out a further 26 per cent controlling stake.
In an obvious reference to Gautam Adani who has a decades-long relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the 'hostile takeover' bid of the well-known TV news network by prime minister's ‘khaas dost’ (special friend) is a “brazen move to control and stifle any semblance of an independent media.” (Also Read | Adani Group to acquire 29.18% stake in NDTV: Things to know about AMNL)
“The news of a deeply over-leveraged company owned by the PM’s ‘khaas dost’ making a hostile takeover bid of a well-known TV news network is nothing but concentration of economic and political power, and a brazen move to control and stifle any semblance of an independent media,” Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary in-charge of communications, said in a tweet.
Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited (VCPL), the company through which Adani Media Ventures Ltd (AMVL), the media arm under the group's flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL), converted NDTV's debt into equity was in the past linked to rival billionaire Mukesh Ambani.
“What’s mysterious is how a loan given by one of the ‘Humare Do’ is used as a weapon by the other member of the duo to trigger the hostile takeover of the television network. Ironical, that an outfit called ‘Vishvapradhan’ is closely involved!” Ramesh tweeted.
Without NDTV's consent
Adani's stunning move to seek control of NDTV as part of an ambitious expansion plan has the potential to change the media landscape. The channel said in a statement that the move by the Adani Group "was executed without any input from, conversation with, or consent of the NDTV founders".
"Without any discussion with NDTV or its founder-promoters, a notice has been served upon them by Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited (VCPL), stating that it (VCPL) has exercised its rights to acquire 99.50 per cent control of RRPR Holding Private Limited (RRPRH), the promoter-owned Company that owns 29.18 per cent of NDTV," it said.
On Monday, NDTV informed the stock exchanges that there was no change in the shareholding of its founders. The media company said in a disclosure that its founder-promoters, Radhika and Prannoy Roy are “not in discussions now, nor have been, with any entity for a change in ownership or a divestment of their stake in NDTV.”
Rajya Sabha member and senior advocate Kapil Sibal said, “Almost the last bastion of Independent journalism being taken over by industry."
"We should be worried!