NBC Universal buys 26% in NDTV Networks

MUMBAI: NBC Universal, Inc has picked up a 26 per cent stake in Prannoy Roy’s NDTV Networks for a consideration of $ 150 million. NDTV Networks is the overseas subsidiary of NDTV.


The announcement was made today by NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker and NDTV Ltd chairman and joint founder Dr Prannoy Roy.


NDTV Networks owns NDTV Imagine Ltd, NDTV Convergence Ltd, NDTV Labs Ltd, NDTV Lifestyle Ltd, NDTV Emerging Markets B.V. The subsidiary is also a joint venture partner in NGEN Media Services Pvt Ltd.


Channels operated by NDTV Networks include the Hindi general entertainment channel NDTV Imagine, which was launched on 21 January, 2008 and lifestyle channel NDTV Good Times. 


The agreement between the two companies also includes an option for NBC Universal to increase its stake to become a 50 per cent partner with NDTV in the JV company in the third year of the joint venture at the then fair market value. The MoA and the transaction contemplated therein are subject to receipt of all necessary approvals.


However, the proposed joint venture will not relate to news channels in India. NDTV already operates three news channels namely NDTV 24×7, NDTV India and NDTV Profit.


Once consummated, the investment by NBC Universal will represent a further milestone in its strategic commitment, announced by Zucker in April 2007, to more than double the size of its international operations in the next three years.


Zucker said, “This will be a significant investment for NBC Universal in an important emerging market and further illustrates our commitment to expand our company internationally, particularly in high-growth areas.  The Indian TV market is expected to grow at 16 per cent annually, which provides huge opportunities now and into the future.”


Roy added, “We are delighted to have NBC as our partner. This agreement is a significant step for us. Today, two pioneers in the television history of the world’s two largest democracies have come together to cater to a dynamic and demanding set of viewers.”


NBC Universal International president Peter Smith said, “This investment will represent a further major step in our international expansion strategy.  NDTV Ltd is a highly respected company, which we will be delighted to have as a partner. We are extremely excited by the quality of the management team that has been assembled at NDTV Networks.  The recent launch of the Lifestyle channel has been exemplary and we are very confident the launch of NDTV Imagine will prove a great success in the Indian marketplace.”


NDTV Networks CEO Vikram Chandra said, “It’s been a very exciting period of growth for NDTV Networks. Over the past six months we have launched four channels and made significant progress in new generation internet and mobile phone offerings. This partnership with one of the world’s most respected media companies will strengthen our position as a dominant force in Indian media and entertainment.”


The MOA reinforces NBC Universal parent company General Electric’s ongoing commitment to India.  GE India president and CEO Tejpreet Singh Chopra commented, “With today’s announcement, GE is moving to further strengthen its presence in and commitment to India. The media industry in the country offers tremendous opportunity for growth.”


The deal comes after Viacom entered into a joint venture with Raghav Bahl’s Television Eighteen Group last year in the television and film space. The JV company is called Viacom 18. Prior to that The Walt Disney Company too picked up a stake in Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV Software Communications.

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