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By Arunabh Saikia Source : Scroll.in

This case looks NDTV via Ambani to Adani. In 2009, Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy Private Limited, an entity that held a 29% share of NDTV received a loan without interest of Rs 403.85 crore from VPCL which was connected with Ambani group. Now VPCL is subsidiary of Adani group.

On Tuesday(23 Aug 2022), Adani Enterprises announced that it will acquire a 29.18% stake in the NDTV group through a subsidiary company.

Led by billionaire Gautam Adani, who is believed to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Adani Group also said it will launch an open offer to buy another 26% of NDTV’s shares. This would effectively give it majority control over one of India’s best-known news brands and among the very few that continue to be critical of the Modi government.

The announcement came as a surprise to the founders of NDTV, veteran journalists Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy, a statement by the media group said.

But the seeds for the takeover had been laid almost a decade and a half ago – by Reliance India Limited, the conglomerate owned by Mukesh Ambani, who used to be Asia’s richest man until Adani overtook him earlier this year.

The Reliance connection

On Tuesday, AMG Media Networks Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, bought 100% of the equity stakes in Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited for Rs 113.74 crore. It is through this company that Adani Enterprises is acquiring NDTV shares.

Incorporated in 2008, Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited describes itself as a management and consultancy services company but owns no assets.

In 2009, it had offered an unsecured loan of Rs 403.85 crore to Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy Private Limited, an entity that held a 29% share of NDTV.

Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited, for its part, had got the money from another company called Shinano Retail Private Limited in the form of another unsecured loan the same financial year.

Shinano, for its part, had got the money – also in the form of an unsecured loan – from Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited, part of the Reliance India Group. In fact, Shinao, at the time, was a fully owned subsidiary of Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited.

Records of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs show that when the transactions took place, all these companies were closely linked. Vishvapradhan was owned by Shinano (with which it shared a common address) and another company called Teesta Retail Private Limited, also wholly owned by Reliance India Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited.

Vishvapradhan’s directors, at the time, were also senior executives at Reliance India Limited.

In 2012, though, Vishvapradhan’s ownership changed, statutory statements filed by the company with the corporate affairs ministry show. The new owners were Nextwave Televenture Private Limited and Skyblue Buildwell Private Limited – companies linked to Mahendra Nahata, a director at Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance India Limited.

This coincided with Eminent Networks Private Limited, of which Nahata is the owner, taking ownership of the loan Vishvapradhan owed to Shinano by investing Rs 50 crore in the firm.

Vishvapradhan, in turn, transferred the Rs 50 crore to Shinano, which claimed in its corporate filings that the former had returned the loan. However, it is not clear how that happened since Vishvapradhan had returned only Rs 50 crore of the Rs 400 crore loan.

Statements filed by Vishvapradhan with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs this year show that it was owned entirely by Nextwave Televenture – until the Adani group took it over Tuesday.

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