New Delhi : In the biggest ever deal in the Indian media sector, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) will acquire control in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd, including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd, for Rs 4,000 crore. The Board of RIL approved funding of up to Rs 4,000 crore to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RIL is the sole beneficiary, for acquisition of control in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd (NW18), including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd (TV18), the company said. The funding includes open offers to be made consequent to the acquisition, it added.

“IMT would use the funds to acquire control over NW18 and TV18 resulting in ownership of about 78 per cent in NW18 and 9 per cent in TV18 and to acquire shares tendered in the open offers,” it added.               NW18 is the owner of a suite of premier digital internet properties, e-commerce businesses and differentiated broadcast content.

This suite includes In.com, IBNLive.com, Moneycontrol.com, Firstpost.com, Cricketnext.in, Homeshop18.com, Bookmyshow.com; the broadcast channels include Colors, CNNIBN, CNBC TV18, IBN7, CNBC Awaaz.       “This acquisition will differentiate Reliance’s 4G business by providing a unique amalgamation at the intersect of telecom, web and digital commerce via a suite of premier digital properties,” RIL said.       In January 2012, Network18 Group and Reliance Industries had joined hands for a multi-layered deal, under which the Mukesh Ambani-led corporate giant would sell part of its interest in ETV channels and would get access to content and distribution assets of the electronic media group.

Ahead of Thursday’s development, Network18 group CEO B Sai Kumar had resigned on Wednesday after serving for 14 years.    Kumar was on the board of several JV of the group and had charted out Network18’s business turnaround and return to profitability.

Chief Financial Officer R.D.S. Bawa has also decided to quit the media conglomerate. Speculation is rife that there could be further high profile exits from the group, including founder and editor Raghav Bahl. Reports are doing the rounds that Chief Operating Officer Ajay Chacko has also resigned from the group.

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