Mid Day Multimedia has been scouting for a partner for quite some time now. Towards the end of last financial year, the group held regular talks with Sakal, Hindustan Times and The Times of India, among others for the same reason. This time around, however, quite a few names being mentioned are from the global arena. Talking about the quest for a strategic partner, states Tariq Ansari, Mid Day Multimedia, “We are in advanced negotiations with a number of very serious potential strategic partners, who can help us unlock the value of the enterprise to the benefit of shareholders.”
Interestingly, just a few weeks back, The Times of India group picked up a six per cent stake in Mid Day Multimedia. Wouldn’t the arrival of the biggest print media conglomerate in the country prove to be an obstacle in the path of roping in a new strategic partner or investor? Ansari does not think so. “Not at all. This investment does not give The Times of India any say whatsoever in the affairs of the company. They are welcome to the financial benefits that would accrue to all shareholders,” says a confident Ansari.
Though Mid Day does not seem rattled by the arrival of The Times of India in the picture, one would wonder what if it comes as a complete surprise to Ansari and his team of managers. Ansari counters the argument saying, “As a listed entity anyone can buy shares in Mid-Day Multimedia. We are gratified that the most successful newspaper enterprise in the country sees fit to buy our shares and considers them to be good value at this price. We hope that the purchases have been undertaken keeping in mind the very stringent SEBI and BSE rules governing the actions of parties who are engaged in confidential discussions and have communicated with Bennett Coleman in this regard.”
When asked what does he see The Times of India gaining from picking this stake, Ansari responds, “I would assume that they are making a portfolio investment in a good company.”
Ansari’s family controls 70 per cent of the paid-up equity of the company and the present management is firmly in control of the operations of the company. Would it succeed in roping in a strategic investor soon if the industry grapevine is to be believed, it would, most probably from overseas.