HT Media plans to deploy cash in new-age digital businesses: Piyush Gupta

The company will also come out with a new plan for reorganising its diverse businesses under a single listed entity, said HT Media Group CFO during the Q4 earnings calls

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jun 7, 2022 8:46 AM  | 3 min read
Piyush Gupta

Cash-rich Hindustan Media Ventures Limited (HMVL), a subsidiary of HT Media, is planning to deploy cash in new-age digital businesses. The company is also incubating its HT Labs business which is developing digital-first products for audiences based on their preferences, a top official said during the company's Q4 earnings calls.

Queried about HMVL's cash utilisation strategy, HT Media Group CFO Piyush Gupta said, "There is a clear plan to utilize this cash but as you know, HMVL right now has a substantial amount of cash on the balance sheet. But we will not unnecessarily do things which we shouldn't be doing with this cash, but we'll be investing this cash to create businesses for the future and you'll be soon hearing from us."

While noting that the new-age businesses are at a nascent stage, Gupta said that the group will be coming out with the go-to-market strategy for these products. He also said that the investments in these properties will help the media group to create a sustainable revenue model.

"They are at various stages of construction, and we have done a soft launch of some of these businesses. I don't want to specifically call them out at this point in time. But sooner rather than later, we will be taking these products to market, and we are already testing the monetization of these products. So, a substantial investment will happen behind these digital products which will create a sustainable revenue stream, and hence, they'll be all accretive from a shareholder perspective. But it will take some time," he said.

Gupta also mentioned that the new businesses that are being incubated by HMVL are not in the news space. "So, there will be new businesses and they will be creating an independent revenue stream. That's broadly how our digital business has panned out."

The HT Media Group CFO also said that the company will come out with a new plan for reorganising its diverse businesses under a single listed entity.

"We definitely still believe that we have to again put down some scheme, which is acceptable to the shareholders. Because the whole thought process was that we have to put a lot of growth capital into our digital companies and our radio business, which is now again coming back from a COVID overhang. And hence, we had proposed the scheme. The investors have at this point in time, not acceded to the scheme. So we will have to come back with a new plan and you will hear from us, but we definitely want to do that in the larger interest of all the shareholders, majority and minority," he elaborated.

Speaking about the advertising outlook, Gupta said that the company is still bullish about the advertising revenue notwithstanding inflationary pressure. "So as far as the outlook on revenue is concerned, I would say it's still good. We have already built our plans, and we are going for a growth plan. But only after let's say, this first quarter, we will get a clearer picture depending on the macroeconomic situation. So that's the outlook on the revenue."

He also said that raw material costs will continue to be a challenge for print companies. "As far as the outlook on the raw material cost is concerned, unfortunately, the outlook is slightly weak at this point in time. This commodity cycle on newsprint that we have seen has already hit a peak, which has never been witnessed before. And the geopolitical factors are definitely not helping."

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