New Delhi Television (NDTV) on Friday said that the company and its subsidiary NDTV Networks have put on hold the proposed sale of its 20 per cent stake in Astro Awani Network, a media company based in Malaysia. NDTV entered into a joint venture with Astro in 2005 for the launch of a 24-hour news channel in Malaysia and Indonesia each. The channels were subsequently launched in 2006.
NDTV informed the stock exchanges that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has withheld its approval for the proposed sale transaction. “The company is currently examining the legal options available to it and will take the necessary actions accordingly,” NDTV said.
Over the past few years, NDTV had been exiting some of its joint ventures, including lifestyle channels, where Astro was an investor, and online shopping, as well as its tie-up with Astro in Malaysia.
Earlier this year, the company executed an agreement with Astro for sale of its 20 per cent stake in the JV company for Rs 15 crore. This was subject to regulatory approvals, including clearances from the Reserve Bank of India and other authorities under the Foreign Exchange Management Rules, 2022.
The media company is currently fighting the Adani group after the latter unveiled plans in August to acquire a 29.18 per cent stake in the news network, through the acquisition of Vishvapradhan Commercial (VCPL), which holds a 99.99 per cent stake in RRPR Holding, an NDTV promoter company.
This triggered an open offer for an additional 26 per cent stake in the company. The open offer, which was tentatively scheduled for October 17, could not be executed since the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had not provided its observations or given its approval to the draft letter of offer by the Adani group. The matter has since moved to the Supreme Court, though Adani last month indicated that it remained committed to completing the open offer process for additional shares in NDTV.