New Delhi Television Limited or NDTV on Friday denied a report that SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh has picked up majority stake in the firm. NDTV informed BSE that promoters of the media firm have not inked any deal to sell their stake to any person.
The communication to the stock exchange said: "With reference to your letter seeking clarification on the news item appearing on www.moneycontrol.com, we wish to inform you the promoters of the company have not entered into any agreement for sale of their stake in the company to any person.
The company is mindful of its obligations under Clause 30 of the Listing Regulations and shall promptly intimate you of any event required which is required to be disclosed under the said Regulations.
We hope that the above clarifies the matter raised in your aforesaid letter."
The Indian Express today reported SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh has picked up majority holding in NDTV. The Indian Express in its report wrote when the newspaper asked if NDTV has been sold to SpiceJet's Ajay Singh, the source said, "Yes, the deal has been finalised and Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV along with editorial rights."
The report said that SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh will have controlling stake in NDTV of around 40 per cent and the promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy will hold around 20 per cent in the company. He will also pick up NDTV's debt of over Rs 400 crore and the total deal is valued at around Rs 600 crore, the report said. Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy had founded NDTV in 1988.
Buzz in Delhi abt imminent sale of a pioneering TV channel, now struggling. Apparently 2A high flying business magnate who would spice it up— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) September 21, 2017
Earlier this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation had carried out a search operations at the offices and homes of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy over allegations of indulging in a criminal conspiracy and causing loss to a bank. The investigating agency registered a case against Prannoy and his wife Radhika, their private firm RRPR Holdings and NDTV India for wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore.
In a statement, the CBI explained the case and said: "The allegations under investigation are not regarding the default in loan repayment; but relate to the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters - Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy, M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy."
The CBI in its FIR said: "NDTV and ICICI entered into a criminal conspiracy to transfer ownership of a news company (NDTV) to a shell company, against banking rules, SEBI Act." However, the NDTV termed the whole incident as a "witch-hunt" and an effort to muzzle free speech.
NDTV in a statement said: "It is shocking that the CBI conducted searches on NDTV offices and the residence of its promoters without even conducting a Preliminary Enquiry. This is a blatant political attack on the freedom of the press, as sources confirm that under pressure, the CBI has been compelled to file an FIR based on a shoddy complaint by a disgruntled former consultant at NDTV called Sanjay Dutt, who has been making false allegations and filing cases in courts of law with these false allegations."
The CBI is not the only central agency to probe the media house, NDTV has also been under Enforcement Directorate scanner for an allegedly money laundering case. In 2015, the ED had issued a show-cause notice to NDTV Ltd for bringing foreign investments of around Rs 2,030 crore into the parent company between 2007-10 allegedly in violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act or Fema guidelines.
NDTV in its filing to the BSE said: "The company along with Dr Prannoy Roy, executive co-chairperson, Mrs Radhika Roy, executive co-chairperson, Mr KVL Narayan Rao, executive vice chairperson and NDTV Studios Ltd (erstwhile subsidiary of the Company since merged with the Company) have on November 19, 2015, received a show cause notice from the Directorate of Enforcement as to why adjudication proceedings should not be held for alleged contraventions of provisions of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act)."