The Ruias of Essar Group have roped in Mahendra Swarup as Advisor for their media business. The speculation is that the company has plans to enter the media business in a big way. Currently the group publishes the Time Out Mumbai magazine. With Swarup on board, the grapevine has it that the group is planning to get into TV, radio and online.
Started in 2004, Paprika Media is the group’s foray into publishing, and is a separate entity. It tied up with the UK-based publishing company Time Out in March 2004 to publish an Indian edition of the magazine. Time Out Mumbai was launched in September 2004 as a fortnightly priced at Rs 25 and has become an integral part of the entertainment scene of Mumbai.
The Ruias are learnt to be preparing to launch Time Out editions in Delhi and Bangalore.
Paprika Media has the licence to publish the magazine in India for a period of ten years. The Time Out weekly listings magazine for a particular city contains information about in film, theatre, fashion, literature and all other artistic events. Twenty-one cities around the world currently have Time Out editions.
When contacted, Swarup refused to comment. He is currently Chief Mentor of interactive services company Smile Interactive Technologies Group, where he has a significant holding. Quasar Media and Studio Smile are part of Smile Interactive. Swarup is also making a foray into mobile value-added service retailing and is inking a major alliance in the B2B travel online space with one of the largest travel companies in India.