Anil Ambani may sell Big FM to Dainik Jagran for Rs 1,200 crore

Chennai: Reliance Communication (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani who is not having a good time in business may have found a buyer for Reliance Broadcast Network (RBN) which operates Big FM radio channel.

Sources say Jagran Prakashan, a leading publication that owns Mid Day and Dainik Jagran (India’s largest circulated newspaper) is set to acquire the company for close to Rs 1,200 crore. It may be noted that Reliance Broadcast Network Limited is a subsidiary of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The company operates Big FM Radio stations and BIG Magic television channel in India.

The report was published in ET that Jagran Prakashan which is the publisher of Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran is set to buy RBN and the announcement is expected on Monday. The offer comes after RBN’a earlier deal with Zee Group fell through due to government. Mahendra Mohan Gupta’s Jagran Prakashan had in December 2014 acquired Music Broadcast Ltd (MBL), which owns FM channel Radio City, in an all-cash deal. It will acquire RBN through MBL.

This deal might be a sigh of relief for the younger Ambani brother as he is currently looking to raise about Rs 12,000 crore to pay off his debt. It may be noted that Reliance Capital is in the final lap to close a deal of selling its 32.8 per cent stake in Reliance Nippon AMC to its partner Nippon Life AMC of Japan. As per bankers, the deal has entered the final stage and the announcement expected in the next 10 days. The price range between which the deal will happen will be in Rs 240-250/share range.

According to government guidelines, a radio company cannot sell the majority stake in a new licence for three years. The lock-in period for Big FM’s 45 stations expired on March 31, 2018, whereas for the remaining 14, it will expire in March 2020.

Worth mentioning here is that Big FM has 59 radio stations, while MBL has 39 stations under the Radio City brand. Sources say that RBN will transfer the control of 45 stations to MBL once the approvals are in. The control of the remaining 14 stations will be transferred once their lock-in period expires. If the deal materialises Radio City will become India’s largest private FM company.

NT Bureau