Now it is crystal clear that SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh has withdrawn from acquiring NDTV. Though Ajay Singh cited complicated legal cases and bad finances as the reason for his exit, according to solid information from Stock Exchange brokers, Mukesh Ambani has taken majority control in NDTV through recent purchases in Stock Exchanges using some friendly trading funds.
It is reliably learnt that Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani now owns more than 51% of the NDTV shares through his associated companies and trading funds, leaving Ajay Singh to walk away from the deal.
The recent run-up in the share price of NDTV has been nothing short of spectacular. NDTV is facing a plethora of lawsuits and has been running up losses quarter after quarter. In any other democratic country, it would have been a subjected to microscopic scrutiny by Stock Exchange Regulators and other agencies designed to probe Money Laundering. On September 4, NDTV’s share value was just Rs.39. On October 11, it shot up to Rs 72!!! The current price is Rs 62.50 when stock exchanges closed on October 23. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why this loss-making company’s shares are fluctuating so wildly. Someone, who knew what he/ she wanted was steadily buying. The next question would be why someone, who owns several media companies, wants to buy NDTV shares? It definitely should have been investigated by the market regulator SEBI, which is under NDTV friendly Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Earlier – some three months ago this was the NDTV’s shareholding pattern. Founder Prannoy Roy and wife Radhika Roy and their shell company RRPR Holdings had around 30 percent shares in NDTV. Mukesh Ambani associated companies own around 35 to 38 percent shares after putting around Rs.400 crores in early 2010. This is established in Nira Radia tapes and in the recent revelations of former NDTV Editor Barkha Dutt. See Figures 1 and 2 below:
The rest of around 32 percent shares were held by minority shareholders like whistleblower Sanjay Dutt and other 40000 shareholders. It appears as though these shares were mopped up by Mukesh Ambani friendly or associated operators and trade funds in Stock Exchanges increasing the industrial tycoon’s control to above 51 percent in NDTV.
So now the question is what is Mukesh Ambani going to do with this increased control in NDTV? He already controls many channels including CNN-IBN, Network 18 regional channels in almost all languages across the country, an investment in Rajat Sharma’s India TV, News Nation and Congress leader and Cricket administrator Rajiv Shukla’s News 24 group of channels. This list would give Lord Hanuman’s tail a run for its money.
But the lingering million dollar question is why Mukesh Ambani increased his stake in NDTV? At present NDTV is liable to pay Rs.525 crores as Income Tax fine for frauds in Money Laundering, facing a FEMA case for Rs.2030 crores frauds and a PMLA case is on the anvil by the ED. And above all Prannoy Roy is facing a CBI case for ICICI Bank fraud and subsequent PMLA case. Can anyone answer why Mukesh wants NDTV so badly?
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