The Indian Express group is close to finalising a merchant banker and expects to come out with its initial public offering by the end of the financial year, Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express, informed exchange4media on Tuesday. “We are in talks with merchant bankers. We are close to appointing one very soon,” he said.
On when exactly the IPO would happen, Shekhar said, “It will all depend on how the market goes and on expert advice. But, we are definitely looking forward to close it by the financial year end.”
Indian Express acquired a 10 per cent stake in the Mumbai tabloid, Mid-Day, in March this year and declared its interest in exploring the market for further growth. When asked whether he was eyeing any major international deals, Shekhar said, “All the options are open, but right now nothing is in the cards.”
Refuting the media buzz that Indian Express was going to completely buy out Mid-Day, Shekhar said, “If such a thing at all happens, then we will talk about it. The alliance that we have is a functional one, and to cement that alliance, we have taken up some equity stake in it. Mid-Day is a very valued partner and so far it’s only that. It does not correctly fit into either our plans or Mid-Day’s plans to have a larger level of collaboration.”
Elaborating on the increased competition in the Mumbai market after the launch of DNA and Hindustan Times, Shekhar claimed that Indian Express was still the No. 2 in the post-DNA Mumbai among the broadsheet papers.
“So far, we have not been affected by the Mumbai paper war. In the broadsheet market we are still No. 2 in Mumbai and the revenue figures show it. In fact, we are very encouraged by the way we withstood the competition in Mumbai. This shows that our paper is distinctive. We don’t see any paper offering at low price affecting us. We see competition from a paper that sells at our price with the quality of content that we provide.”
On his new competitors in Mumbai, Shekhar said, “We believe the market will expand in Mumbai. The new papers, HT and DNA, are basically jostling with The Times of India for space. We are happy to have a distinctive position because we are a mindspace paper. Today’s reader is quite aware and has a questioning attitude. He is not happy to see a paper that just entertains him, titillates him. And those readers who ask questions and seek answers find Indian Express valuable.”
As reported earlier, Indian Express is coming out with a host of new general and special magazines by the year-end and will hold a summit as part of its ‘India Empowered’ campaign in the third week of October.