Turner still keen on India despite Real problems

Tuesday’s deal in which Turner bought into yet another Indian media venture cements the international broadcaster’s place at the forefront of the wave of investment in the sub-Continent. Turner Asia Pacific Ventures will buy an indirect stake of 76% in NDTV Imagine Ltd in a deal worth US$117 million.

The terms of the deal see the 76% held by NDTV Networks Plc transferred to Turner for US$67 million, along with a fresh issue of equity shares worth US$50 million. Turner should end up with 92% of the broadcaster, if regulators give their approval.

Turner International’s India MD Anshuman Misra said: "Turner International has signed an agreement in principle to acquire 92 per cent of NDTV Imagine, subject to regulatory and Time Warner board approval. We will provide complete details upon board approval."

NDTV said Dec 8 that NDTV Networks Plc, the subsidiary company that holds NDTV Imagine, will retain a five per cent stake in NDTV Imagine, prior to the issuance of primary shares to Turner Asia Pacific Ventures.

NDTV Imagine is just one of a stable of broadcast units backed by NDTV (New Delhi Television). Another, NDTV Lifestyle, was recently partially sold to Scripps. NDTV was itself partially backed by NBC-Universal until October, when NDTV Networks bought back the 26% stake.

A Hindi general entertainment channel, NDTV Imagine was one of the later entrants to the sector, launching in January 2008. As well as in India, the channel is also available in the UK on Sky Digital, on Dish Network in the us and via Nilesat in the Middle East. Its schedule is based around drama and reality.

As for Turner, the company already has an investment in Real Global Broadcasting, a joint venture with the Alva Brothers’ producer Miditech. But that entertainment channel, a reality-based service, announced in September that it would scale back investment and start running repeats rather than first-run content.

Turner also has a hand in WB, a Warner-branded channel in India that launched back in March 2009. That channel is distributed as part of the Zee Turner joint venture, a distribution bouquet of 35 channels which also includes Turner’s Cartoon Network and CNN as well as Zee’s plethora of channels, Ten Sports and HBO.

The NDTV Imagine sale announcement also spoke of NDTV exiting two joint ventures. It will exit first from NDTV Lumiere, a world cinema channel, which is a joint venture with the Adlabs Founder Manmohan Shetty and producer Sunil Doshi. It will also exit NDTV showbiz, which focuses on Bollywood.