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The Meltdown: Sale or no sale – INX Media & INX News caught in a speculations storm

10-November-2008
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The Meltdown: Sale or no sale – INX Media & INX News caught in a speculations storm

Impact of the economic crunch is beginning to show on the Indian media companies as well. Many operations appear strangulated at present, but the likes of INX News and INX Media, are amongst the few companies that have got caught right in the eye of a speculations storm, triggered by the lack of funds in the present economic system. The situation does appear grim for INX.

Speculations have been rife most of last week that their English news channel, NewsX, has been sold to the Bhaskar Group, and the two entertainment channels from INX Media – 9X and 9XM – have been sold to Balaji Telefilms. Rumours also have it that Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea, the Founders of the two companies, would be stepping down from their respective roles at INX Media and INX News. Layoffs, outstanding arrears and termination of various shows on 9X are just some of the other things that people have been talking about. A general sense of unrest in the company is also palpable following the various talks and uncertainty in the market.

Thwarting all speculations and putting things into perspective, Indrani Mukerjea, Founder and CEO, INX Media and INX News, said in a conversation with exchange4media, “Any news of either Peter or me stepping down or resigning is completely untrue. It is not in Peter’s or my DNA to abandon ship. It is also not in the DNA of INX employees to pay heed to such rumours.”

When questioned on whether the company was in talks with either the Bhaskar Group or Balaji Telefilms for selling stake of either of its businesses, she said, “Absolutely not. We are in talks with various companies for the second round of raising funds for the company. Neither the Bhaskar Group, any of its affiliate companies nor Balaji Telefilms approached us or Kotak, whom we have mandated for this round of fundraising, at any stage of our fundraising exercise. We have never had a conversation with them.”

Mukerjea elaborated further on this in the conversation with exchange4media. She said, “We are in the process of fundraising for both INX News and INX Media, which we had spoken to the media about a month back. You can have a new investor or a set of investors come in any time from 12 weeks to 12 months, since that process of fundraising kicks off. However, we would definitely wait for the right time and the right price before we finalise anything. We are in no tearing rush to make anything happen on this. In case we do not find an investor who can give us the right value, we always have the option of doing a rights issue.”

A very senior INX official broke down the situation further to explain what is happening at INX and what has led to these talks in the industry. The lack of funds in the market has tightened the supply from the current INX investors. This is the key reason to embark on a second round of fundraising to be able to meet the plans of all the new channels and so on, all of which are currently on a complete hold.

Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea own 45 per cent of INX Media. The source said, “It really depends on whose stake is being bought out, how much is being bought out. If they get the right price, it would make sense for them to sell. In that situation, they obviously would not be a part of INX Media and INX News as they currently are.”

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