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FIPB defers decision on TV Today proposal

New Delhi, Aug. 27 (PTI): The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has again deferred a proposal of GE Capital Mauritius Equity Investment (GECMEI) to acquire 1.8 million shares of Aroon Purie’s TV Today network.

The decision to defer was taken on the recommendation of the information and broadcasting ministry, sources said.

GECMEI plans to acquire 7.5 per cent stake in TV Today network, which owns the 24-hour Hindi news channel ‘Aaj Tak’, via a combination of preferential allotment and transfer of shares held by Living Media India Limited, sources said.

The total investment GECMEI plans to make in this stake acquisition is Rs 10.5 crore.

They said in the FIPB meeting held on August 1, the I&B ministry sought deferment on the ground that there was discrepancy in percentage of foreign equity in the proposal of GECMEI.

While 80 per cent stake in TV Today rests with Purie and his companies, ICICI and Bharti Televentures have acquired 10 per cent each in the news channel for a total consideration of Rs 35 crore earlier, sources said here. They said GE Capital had initially wanted to acquire 20 per cent stake but the FIPB application has been made for 7.5 per cent now after negotiations.

As per the company’s application, it has proposed to transfer one million shares out of the existing share capital of 23.2 million shares of Rs 10 each (face value). Also, TV Today will make a preferential allotment of 800,000 shares of GECMEI, which would result in a foreign equity participation of 7.5 per cent post issue, sources added.

They said since foreign direct investment of up to 100 per cent is permissible in TV software production sector, the present proposal is fully in accordance with the extant policy.

“The board took note of the above and deferred the proposal for one week and directed the ministry of information and technology to furnish their comments without any further delay,” sources added.

At present, the entire paid-up capital of Rs 23.2 crore of TV Today network is held by resident Indian shareholders.

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