Asianet News, a round-the-clock, South-based regional news channel, is set to acquire an English general news channel and a vernacular newspaper in South India, together for nearly Rs 200 crore. The cost for both the deals is expected to be funded mostly through debt.
Asianet News is owned by South-focused Asianet, a Rs 250-crore group, controlled by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP, who exited BPL Mobile for an enterprise valuation of more than a $1 billion around four years ago. Asianet has seven television channels and two FM radio stations.
According to industry sources, Asianet News is at an advanced stage of negotiations with at least two English news channels — one based in Mumbai, and the other in New Delhi. When contacted, Asianet spokesperson offered not to comment. For some time now, the company has been in negotiations with global and Indian players to divest stake in its flagship general entertainment channel.
In addition to general entertainment channels in Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu, Asianet News runs three round-the-clock news channels in Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu, FM radio channels in Thrissur and Kannur, and has a separate company Asianet Infrastructure which manages the entire infrastructure for all these networks.
Industry sources say that Asianet’s move to acquire a regional newspaper comes more than a year after it had sent strong feelers to acquire the Bangalore-based English newspaper Deccan Herald, which did not fructify.
6 months ago