NDTV says Adani will need approval from Indian regulator for bid

NDTV founders look to stymie hostile takeover bid amid concerns over media freedom.

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat
Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's group's bid for NDTV caught the founders unaware [File: Amit Dave/Reuters]

New Delhi Television Ltd. said the Adani Group, will need approval from India’s markets regulator for its hostile takeover bid, amid wider concerns that the acquisition may muzzle the country’s independent press.

The conglomerate, led by Asia’s richest person Gautam Adani, needs approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India to buy NDTV, as the news outlet is known. That’s because its founders and current owners Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy have been barred from dealing in shares for two years through Nov. 26, the media house said in an exchange filing Thursday.

Adani Group announced the indirect acquisition of a 29.2% in the broadcaster on Tuesday, along with an offer to buy another 26% from the open market. NDTV said later that the company and its founders were neither aware of the transaction nor did they give consent for this stake sale.

The filing from NDTV marks the latest twist in this takeover battle as the Roys look to stymie the deal. Some lawmakers have flagged concerns that Adani’s attempts to gain control of NDTV, seen as one of the few relatively critical news outlets of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, is alarming considering the tycoon’s close relationship with the leader.

The news of a deeply over-leveraged company owned by the PM’s ‘khaas dost’ making a hostile takeover bid of a well-known TV news network is nothing but concentration of economic and political power, and a brazen move to control and stifle any semblance of an independent media.

— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) August 24, 2022

A spokesperson for Adani Group didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Shares of NDTV, valued at about $329 million, have been on a tear, surging more than 250% this year. The stock hit the daily limit of 5% jump for second straight session on Thursday, touching a level last seen in 2008. It is currently trading at 407.6 rupees ($5.1), almost 39% above the price Adani is offering for the open offer.

Source: Bloomberg