Adani group acquires state in Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion
If you thought that the Adani group and Reliance group are only going to face off on the green energy front, think again. The other big arena appears to be media. In a surprising move last week, Adani Group announced that it had acquired a minority stake in Quintillion Business Media. Incidentally, Quintillion Business Media was floated by Raghav Bahl, one of the pioneers of the media business in digital media and television.
For starters, Raghav Bahl is a well known and highly respected name in media circles. He was the one who brought CNBC and CNN into India with his Network 18 group. Later, the entire suite of channels owned by Raghav Bahl were sold to the Reliance group almost a decade back. Post the 3 year cooling period, Raghav Bahl had made re-entry into the media business via Quintillion Business Media, which is yet to get a television channel license.
The deal with Adani, for now, only pertains to Quintillion Business Media (QBM), which is the digital business news platform of the Raghav Bahl floated media venture. There are also other digital properties owned by the Raghav Bahl group and these include The Quint, Quintype Technologies, The News-minute and Youth-ki-awaaz. This also gives a much larger balance sheet backing to the Quintillion Business Media group.
The purchase of minority stake in Quintillion Business Media marks the Adani group’s maiden foray into the media segment. The deal will be executed through Adani Media Ventures, which proposes to lead the path for new-age media across different platforms. Today media has gone just beyond mere television medium and encompasses a variety of digital properties and the recent pandemic has only highlighted the power of new media.
Incidentally, the CEO of Adani Media Ventures is the high profile former face of CNBC and Quint, Sanjay Pugalia. For Sanjay, it would be like a homecoming of sorts as he would be literally operating on familiar territory. Adani media plans to position in the confluence of technology, information overload and quality journalism. The group believes that it is possible to drastically change the way news is delivered and consumed in India.
Quintillion Business Media has its content focus on the Indian economy, international finance, corporate law and governance and business news. For the Quintillion group, this deal gives them the much needed breathing space to accelerate their positioning in the digital media space. QBM is incidentally headed by Anil Uniyal, who is again a veteran CNBC India hand, so for most of them it is back to familiar business territory.
The media aspirations of the Adani group have never been a secret. Last year, there were strong expectations that the Adani group would take a stake in NDTV, but somehow that did not materialize. Now Adani has finally made its foray into media. Knowing the way the Adani group typically operates, it is underlined by speed and aggression and that is likely to be abundantly in evidence in this round also.
Interestingly, Bloomberg Media and Quintillion Media will not co-produce content any longer but instead they would continue to distribute Bloomberg content in India through a license agreement. But the more interesting part of the deal would be how the Adani group’s media plans face off with that of the Reliance group. Both groups have mega market caps and deep pockets combined with an extremely aggressive top management.
In terms of size, both the groups are now almost comparable. Reliance group has an overall market cap of $200 billion while the Adani group has a combined market cap of over $150 billion, spread across 7 of its publicly listed companies, with Adani Wilmar being the latest. The Adani business interests are spread across airports and ports, power generation and transmission, coal and gas trading. Reliance is more of an energy, retail and digital play.
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