FAIRFAX Media is seeking a foothold in the burgeoning Indian media sector through a stake in national English-language newspaper The Hindu, according to local reports.
Fairfax Media Limited [ASX:FXJ] is Australasia's leading media company. In May, 2007, Fairfax Media and Rural Press Limited completed their merger, ...
Weekly magazine Business India and business daily Mint said Fairfax had been in discussions with The Hindu's owners, Kasturi & Sons.
Shareholders of Kasturi and Sons Ltd, the publisher of The Hindu newspaper, are believed to be in talks with Australia’s Fairfax Media Ltd for a possible sale of a minority stake in the Chennai-based company, a first for the 130-year-old, family-owned grown
Media analysts had valued the group at 26 billion to 28 billion rupees ($700 million to $755million), Mint said.
On that valuation, a 26 per cent shareholding, the maximum allowed under India's foreign investment laws for the print media, would cost about 6.8billion to 7.3 billion rupees
"Insiders close to Kasturi's shareholders and some media analysts said the discussions are indeed on, and the senior executives of the company, which also publishes The Hindu Business Line, have been visiting Australia at regular intervals."
The financial details of Kasturi and Sons could not be obtained as it is an unlisted and closely held company but, based on its Rs450-500 crore advertisement revenue, the group could be valued at Rs2,600-2,800 crore, according to some media analysts.
About the Hindu
Based in Chennai, The Hindu was founded 130 years ago and has been owned by the Kasturi family since 1905.
One of India's three national English-language papers, along with The Times of India and the Hindustan Times, it sells 1.2million copies a day and has a readership of about four million, according to its website.
The paper has long enjoyed unrivalled dominance in the English-language newspaper market in southern India.
India is the world's second largest newspaper market after China, with about 78 million copies sold daily, reaching more than 220 million people. In the four years to 2006, circulation growth was 54 per cent.
Foreign media investors already in India include News Corporation (which owns Star TV India and satellite service Tata Sky, and is also publisher of The Australian); the Pearson Group (26 per cent of national business newspaper Business Standard); and Tony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media (21 per cent of the JPL group, publisher of the Hindi-language newspaper Dainik Jagran).