Big FM radio channel operated by Reliance Broadcast Network (RBN) has been working under the ownership of Reliance Communication (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani. In a recent development, Jagran Prakashan is set to acquire this broadcast network for an estimate of Rs.1,200 crore.
Jagran Prakashan, the publisher of the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran is supposedly set to take over this subsidiary of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
Reliance Broadcast Network Limited is responsible for the operation of BIG Magic Television Channel along with BIG FM Radio stations. It is reportedly said that the announcement of this buyout is to take place today (May 27, 2019). In an earlier effort, RBN was in talks with offering a deal to Zee Group, however, delays in government approval led to its fall off
For Anil Ambani who has been looking to raise Rs. 12,000 crore to pay off his debt, this might come as a sign of some comfort. According to bankers, Reliance Capital is on the last stage of closing a deal with Reliance Nippon AMC, its partner Nippon Life AMC of Japan for selling 32.8% of its stake. Rs. 240-250 per share is the reported price range in which the deal is said to have been set and an announcement is expected in the upcoming 10 days.
This isn’t the first radio buy out for Jagran; in 2014 the media entity acquired MBL (Music Broadcast Limited that owns Radio City).
As per government guidelines, a radio company is not permitted to sell the majority stake in a new license for at least a periods of three years. This restrictive period expired on March 31, 2018, for 45 stations of Big FM which are now eligible to be sold but for the remaining 14 stations, it expires only in March 2020. The financial daily quoted one of its sources saying, “RBN and MBL have reached an agreement… MBL will first pick up 24 per cent in RBN, which does not require any permission.”
Another source reportedly suggests that once the approvals come, RBN will give the control of 45 stations to MBL whereas the remaining 14 will be turned post March 2020.
While MBL has 39 stations under the Radio City brand, Big FM has 59 radio stations. Hence, if this deal goes through, sources say that Radio City shall become India’s largest private FM company.