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TV9 owner seeks investor in expansion bid

India's Associated Broadcasting Company (ABCL) is seeking an investor to help expand its regional news channel base from six to nine, according to Indian Television.

The plans include the launch of a news channel in Tamil for Chennai, and ones in Oriya and Hindi for the National Capital Region (NCR), for which ABCL requires INR 4 billion.

The Hyderabad-based broadcaster has reportedly enlisted Edelweiss Capital to seek out an investor, and may consider leaving the business altogether should the price be right.

ABCL currently operates six news channels: TV9 AP (Telugu), TV1, TV9 Karnataka, News9 English (Bangalore), TV9 Gujarat, and TV9 Mumbai (Hindi).

Local partners reportedly hold 10% stakes in TV9 Karnataka and News9 Engligh, with another holding a 5% share in TV9 Gujarat. ABCL holds the entire stake in its remaining channels.

It is currently seeking to merge its interests with iVision Media, the India division of private equity fund Saif III Mauritius Company, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Softbank Corp.

ABCL has reportedly made an equity investment of INR 800 million into its broadcasting business and has taken a loan of INR 500 million from Saif. This debt will be converted into 14.5% stake on completion of the merger with iVision Media – subject to high court approval.

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