(Bloomberg) — The founders of New Delhi Television Ltd. have resigned from the board of the holding company that owns a majority stake in the Indian broadcaster as Asia’s richest man, Gautam Adani, gains ground in a hostile takeover battle.
Prannoy and Radhika Roy, the husband-and-wife team of journalists who founded the media house in the 1980s, have stepped down from RRPR Holding Pvt., NDTV said in a statement late on Tuesday. The car owns a nearly 30% stake in NDTV and was indirectly acquired by the Adani Group in August – prompting a wider open offer from the powerful Indian tycoon to buy another 26% in the media company.
RRPR appointed two Adani Group executives — Sudipta Bhattacharya and Sanjay Pugalia — to the board, as well as Senthil Chengalvarayan, a journalist who is an independent director at Quintillion Business Media Pvt., another media firm in which Adani bought a stake earlier this year.
The board reshuffle shows the takeover battle entering its final stages, brushing aside Royce’s opposition amid broader concerns that the transaction would undermine press freedom given the tycoon’s alleged close relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The media organization was one of the few Indian newsrooms that wrote articles critical of the federal government.
The Roy family did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Adani’s bid was contested by NDTV amid concerns about press freedom in India
Adani told the Financial Times this month that it intended to expand NDTV to make it an international media group and had asked Prannoy Roy to stay on as chairman.
Open the offer
Their resignations come after NDTV said on Monday that RRPR had issued 99.5% of its shares to an Adani-controlled entity. Adani Group is also in the midst of its open bid to buy more of NDTV’s minority shareholders. A third of the offer, scheduled to close on December 5, has already been subscribed despite a sharp discount to the current share price.
When it was first launched, NDTV was a pioneer at a time when India’s main news channel was a flimsy state broadcaster. Since then, NDTV has become a prominent media house that broadcasts news in English and Hindi.
Adani is now a step closer to gaining a bigger footprint in India’s media sector as part of its wider diversification to expand its empire beyond coal mining and ports into airports, data centers, cement and digital services.
Shares of NDTV rose as much as 5.3 percent in trading in Mumbai on Wednesday, pushing the jump this year to nearly 285 percent. In comparison, the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex has advanced 7.7% in 2022.
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