Sucheta Dalal :Network18 group companies are mostly sick
Sucheta Dalal

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Network18 group companies are mostly sick   

January 25, 2010

Media and entertainment company Network18 has been pumping money into its cash-strapped, loss-making businesses, to keep them alive.

Unfortunately, several group companies and subsidiaries of Network18 are so heavily weighed down by losses, that their net-worth has been completely eroded. Belying their glitzy public images and continuing expansions, they are essentially sick companies.

The net-worth of both Viacom18 and IBN Lokmat has substantially eroded. IBN18 Broadcast, a group company, has investments in Viacom18 Media and IBN Lokmat. Although Viacom18, which is a 50:50 joint venture company of IBN 18 Broadcast and Viacom Inc, made a profit of Rs5.70 crore for the quarter ended 31 December 2009, IBN Lokmat is in the red, having incurred a loss of Rs4.36 crore for the same period. IBN Lokmat is a 50:50 joint venture company of IBN 18 Broadcast and the Lokmat Newspaper group.

Infomedia18, the publishing subsidiary of group company TV18, shares the same fate. It incurred a loss of Rs84.65 crore during the financial year 2008-09 and Rs43.15 crore for the nine months ended 31 December 2009. It has registered a net loss of Rs12.88 crore for the quarter ended December 2009. As a result, the company’s accumulated losses exceed the company’s share capital and reserves. It had to apply to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), as required under the provisions of Section 15 of the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1985. The application was rejected on technical grounds. Group parent company Network18 had to come to the rescue of its beleaguered subsidiary for now. It extended financial support to Infomedia18 by infusing liquidity through inter-corporate deposits of Rs58.50 crore. It had also supported it when Infomedia’s rights issue failed last week.

The Network 18 group is India’s most diversified media company. Its properties and titles are spread across print, Web and television (news, business, general entertainment and music). Almost all of them are making losses. Several new businesses such as CNN IBN and IBN Lokmat, IBN7 and Infomedia were launched or acquired in a very short span of time between 2005-08, funded mostly through public money and later through bank finance. Virtually nothing has been funded through internal accruals, raising doubts about the inherent viability of the businesses.
Moneylife Digital Team


-- Sucheta Dalal