Reuters India Pvt Ltd is negotiating with Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd to pick up a 26 per cent stake in Times Television. The deal price could not be ascertained but sources in the know of the development said both the sides had reached the final stages of negotiations.
Both Reuters India and The Times group did not comment on the development. However, neither of them denied it.
When contacted, Arun Arora, president of The Times group, said he would not comment on any speculative reports. Venkat Ramani, managing director and senior company officer, South Asia, of Reuters India Pvt Ltd, told Business Standard, "We don't comment on rumours and speculation."
The Times group has invested around Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) in Times Television to launch several channels. The first offering was Zoom -- positioned as a lifestyle and entertainment channel. The group is also set to launch a spiritual channel and a business news channel.
The group had first ventured into the television business in early 1990s. At that time, the company was primarily a content provider for channels.
The business channel has already gathered momentum with some key people like Arnab Goswami, a former senior editor with NDTV 24X7, joining the team.
Sunil Lulla, currently the head of Sony Entertainment Television digital division, is likely to join the channel as business head.
Bennett, Coleman & Co is a Rs 1,500-crore (Rs 15 billion) group and publishes leading dailies such as The Times of India, The Economic Times, Navbharat Times and Maharashtra Times.It also publishes magazines Femina and Filmfare. The group has interests in the entertainment industry in the form of Radio Mirchi, Planet M and Times Multimedia.