Friday, September 22, 2017

SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh set to take over NDTV? Company tells BSE it's not selling stake

Ajay Singh, the co-founder and owner of SpiceJet who played an important part in the BJP’s 2014 poll campaign, has picked up a majority stake in NDTV, as per a report by Sandeep Singh in the Indian Express.

When asked if the deal has been closed, the source told the paper, “Yes, the deal has been finalised and Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV along with editorial rights.”

However, NDTV in its clarification to the Bombay Stock Exchange, denied that its promoters were selling its stake in the company.
Sources had confirmed to Indian Express that Ajay Singh, who is the chairman and managing director of SpiceJet will have controlling stake of around 40% in NDTV while 20% will be held by the promoters Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy.

As per data available with BSE, the promoter holding in NDTV stood at 61.45% as of June 2017 while public shareholding in the company is at 38.55%. The source confirmed to the paper that Ajay Singh will also pick up NDTV’s debt of over Rs 400 crore and the total deal is valued at around Rs 600 crore.

The Roys will also pick up a part of the cash of up to Rs 100 crore, the report says.

However, when asked about the deal, a SpiceJet official rubbished it as “absolutely false and baseless”. NDTV officials were not available for comment as per the report.

Earlier this year in June, the CBI had conducted raids on the Delhi and Dehradun homes of Prannoy Roy, the founder and executive co-chairperson of NDTV. An FIR had been filed and according to it, NDTV defaulted on a loan amount of Rs. 42 crore taken from ICICI Bank through a subsidiary RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd, as per sources.

In a statement, the news channel had termed the searches as a “witch hunt by multiple agencies” and had said that they will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India.

Ajay Singh acquired SpiceJet in 2015 and has revived the airline. He was the man responsible for naming BJP’s 2014 campaign slogan “abki baar Modi sarkar” and was part of the core advertising team.

In 1996, he was asked to serve on the Board of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and is known to have played a major hand in its turnaround. DTC’s fleet rose from 300 to 6,000 within two and a half years while he was at the helm.
22/09/17 News Minute

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