Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Amar Ujala to get a strategic partner: Indian Express

Amar Ujala, the fourth largest Hindi daily in terms of readership, is set to get a strategic partner. One of India’s largest regional media groups will acquire an 18 per cent stake in Amar Ujala Publications Ltd (AUPL), the company that publishes the newspaper, it is learnt.
Amar Ujala has been in the news for the past two years, ever since private equity firm DE Shaw, which had picked up an 18 per cent stake in AUPL in 2006 for Rs 117 crore, sought an exit and a return of around 25% on its investment.
DE Shaw was insistent that AUPL either lists itself or sells to a buyer identified by the private equity firm. When AUPL resisted, DE Shaw dragged the company to court. After a prolonged and messy battle, AUPL agreed to pay DE Shaw for its 18 per cent stake.
AUPL has ever since been looking for a strategic investor. The company valued itself at around Rs 850 crore.
Subhash Chandra’s Zee Group entered the fray recently, and there were some rumours that Amar Ujala’s promoters would sell the newspaper to Zee for around Rs 1,100 crore.
AUPL’s promoters, the Maheshwari family, however, only wanted to raise funds to pay DE Shaw, not to sell the paper, sources close to the development said. The promoters finally decided to sell DE Shaw’s 18 per cent stake to one of the country’s largest newspaper groups for around Rs 150-170 crore, the sources said.
AUPL executive director Sunil Mutreja declined to comment on the development.
The deal is likely to boost both the prospective partners’ presence in markets in the north, where Amar Ujala is already a serious player. The newspaper sells close to 20 lakh copies, and is the number two player in Uttar Pradesh after Dainik Jagran, the country’s most read Hindi newspaper. AUPL’s turnover and net profit last year were Rs 600 crore and Rs 30 crore, respectively.
Courtesy Indian Express

Monday, November 5, 2012

Zee to takeover Amar Ujala

Reports coming in from different sources say that Zee group is all set to take over India leading Hindi daily Amar Ujala. The deal size is said to be worth 1100 crore rupees. Zee is expected to inform BSE about the deal on Wenesday. Rajul Maheshwari will remain director till December 31 and Sunil Mutreja will act as CEO of Amar Ujala after take over by Zee.

Amar Ujala is 4th largest Hindi daily in India as per Indian Readership Survey (IRS) behind Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and Hindustan and ahead of Rajasthan Patrika. It is assumed that if the take over takes place  war between leading regional players in Hindi belt will resume.

In India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh Amar Ujala is in direct competition with the market leader and world's largest read daily Dainik Jagran. In western UP there is close fight between the two while Jagran has a clear edge in eastern and central UP.

In Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir Amar Ujala is the market leader. Dainik Jagran in spite of consistent efforts has failed to break its hold over the readers in hilly terrain. India's number two Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar also trails behind Amar Ujala in Himachal Pradesh.

The deal if materializes will give Zee ample space to grow its print media business as well as strengthen regional news channel Zee Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand. The company already owns an English daily DNA which was started in partnership with Dainik Bhaskar. Later on Zee took over it completely.

DNA shook the hegemony of Times of India in Mumbai when launched however failed to beat the Old Lady of Bouribunder's hold in terms of circulation and readership. However DNA has been successful in creating a new audience and along with Hindustan Times has carved a space of its own.

It is also pertinent to note that Zee group on an earlier ocassion has also shown interest to purchase stake in Amar Ujala when the war between stake holders of the company was at its peak. However the deal fell through after decision of the Company Law Board.

While Amar Ujala's competitior Dainik Jagran has been on an acquisition spree buying Mid Day and Nai Dunia it has stayed within its confines leave alone the effort it made to acquire Prabhat Khabar Jharkhand's leading Hindi daily years ago.

During recession Amar Ujala pulled back from Punjab while its competitors Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar engaged in fierce battle to capture the market. Jagran more than a year ago also launched a Punjabi daily from the state.

Amar Ujala which launched Compact a tabloid size newspaper to take on inext a bilingual compact size daily from Jagran group has closed its Dehradun and Meerut editions in the recent past. The reason behind it was said to be focus on editions like Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad and Gorakhpur and expand it into smaller cities of Uttar Pradesh.

Hindi newspaper space in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand is now a days abuzz with rumors of Navbharat TImes Hindi daily from Times group launching editions from Lucknow and Dehradun and Ananad Bazaar Patrika from Lucknow. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Update on India Today's Hindi daily Aaj Tak

In an interview to business daily Mint Editor-in-chief of India Today Aroon Purie has stated that the group is contemplating the launch of a Hindi daily. The group also plans to expand further into regional media space. A few months ago Mint has flashed the news that the group plans to launch a Hindi daily which will be named after its flagship news channel Aaj Tak. You can read the complete interview here

New launches

Updated list of recent and proposed launches is as follows:

Metro7days (daily) Mumbai May 22
Lokmat Samachar (daily) (Jalgaon) May 15 (may change)
Lokmat Samachar (daily) (Pune) Date not finalised
Lokmat Samachar (daily) (Mumbai) Date not finalised
Hamwatan (weekly) Bhopal June 2011
Tehelka Hindi (magazine) National edition June 2011
Swabhiman Times (daily) Gwalior Date not finalised
Hindustan (daily) Moradabad July 2011 (proposed) Status update: Land purchased
Hindustan (daily) Aligarh Date not finalsied
Dainik Bhaskar (daily) Dhanbad April 17 (launched)
Hindustan Jobs (weekly) National edition May 8

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chalo Mumbai

So after Delhi now its turn of Mumbai. The financial capital of India is going to witness a turf war among new and old players of Hindi media. On 22nd May Metro Daily News India Private Limited will launch its 24 page tabloid Metro7Days. The new player has plans to launch 14 editions from different cities. The daily will be priced at 2/-. Another player waiting in the wings is Lokmat Samachar. After launching its Jalgaon edition on May 15 it plans to enter Pune and subsequently Mumbai. Lokmat group which publishes leading Marathi daily Lokmat and Lokmat Times in English seems to have grandiose plans for its Hindi newspaper. Group editor of the Lokmat Samachar Girish Mishra has already been transferred to Pune from where he is supposed to give final shapes to his strategy of taking the newspaper to Mumbai. At present there are four editions of Lokmat Samachar which will go up to seven after the launch of three more ediions. It is interesting to note that the leadership position of Lokmat is being threatened by a newspaper from the Hindi belt Dainik Bhaskar which has plans to launch multiple editions of its upcoming Marathi daily Divya Marathi. Bhaskar which is known to be an aggressive player for the first time is going to challenge the media might of player which is not only well entrenched in the Maharashtra market but has diversified in almost all forms of the media.
Already existing players in Mumbai market like Navbharat Times, Navbharat, Hamara Mahanagar and Dopahar Ka Samna may feel the heat of the competition in coming months. However the only player of significance in Mumbai market is Navbharat Times from the group of Bennett & Coleman publisher of leading English daily Times of India. Dainik Jagran after acquiring Mid Day may enter the fray in near future. Even Hindustan which is on an expansion spree may put its foot on the Mumbai soil. As its sibling Hindustan Times has already made some gains and pushed English daily from Bhaskar and Zee group DNA to the third position in Mumbai market. Sometime ago it was heard that another leading Hindi daily Rajasthan Patrika was also making plans to make its presence felt in the financial capital of India but they never materialized into something concrete. Patrika already has presence in Surat and Indore which are very close to Mumbai.
On the one hand when dailies from the Hindi heartland are thinking at entering the Mumbai market Hamara Mahanagar which has its roots in city shut down its Delhi edition. The edition was wound up in less than two years. During the launch of Hamara Mahanagar from Delhi the plans to enter several new territories in Hindi belt were announced however they never fructified.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Living Media to launch Hindi Daily Aaj Tak

Anushree Chandran,
Living Media India Ltd, which publishes print titles such as India Today, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, among others, is set to launch a Hindi broadsheet Aaj Tak in the next six months. The group operates a Hindi news channel by the same name which is over 10 years old.

The group has also set its sights on the southern market. It is gearing up to launch a Malayalam daily that would compete with Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi in the Kerala market. A team is already working on the project. A Gujarati news magazine (separate from India Today in Gujarati) is also on the cards.

While a senior India Today executive confirmed these developments on condition of anonymity, Ashish Bagga, CEO, Living Media, said there was nothing in the offing immediately. He declined to elaborate further.

The Malayalam paper and the Gujarati magazine will be published under the newly created corporate entity under Prabhu Chawla, former editor of India Today and current chief executive and editor (languages) of the new set-up.

This business unit has been created for regional expansion in print. Last week, in an internal email to employees, the promoter and editor-in-chief of India TodayAroon Purie announced that the company was hiving off its language publishing business into this firm.

According to Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd, Hindi dailies have seen a 26.8% growth in readership since 2005. However, the new Hindi paper from the India Today group will have to contend with entrenched rivals such as Dainik Jagran, the market leader, with a readership of 15,925,000 readers. Jagran is followed by Dainik Bhaskar with 13,303,000 readers.

Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd’s Hindi newspaper Hindustan has 10,143,000 readers and prints out of 15 locations. Mint is published by HT Media Ltd, which owns HT Media Ventures Ltd.

The Hindi daily newspaper market will be a difficult one to enter, according to Anita Nayyar, chief executive of Havas Media. “Whether India Today is able to dent the existing shares of players depends on if the format is refreshingly different —may be a Sunday Times or tabloid-style format (will work),” she said.

Meanwhile, with Rajat Sharma’s Hindi news channel India TV giving Aaj Tak channel competition, “starting a Hindi newspaper (to take the same property forward) is a dramatic thing to do,” she added.

Senior executives of most Hindi newspapers declined to comment on India Today’s plans.

Sanjeev Kotnala, vice-president of DB Corp. Ltd, said, “We’ve always maintained that the growth for print is going to come from tier-2 and tier-3 towns.”

Bhaskar has begun launching new printing centres and editions in Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and expanded its footprint in Jharkhand. “We entered Ranchi and will soon enter Jamshedpur and Dhanbad. We will also launch in at least three cities of Bihar in January-March 2011,” he said. Kotnala refused to comment on the entry of a new player, as did Basant Rathore, vice-president, strategy and brand development, Jagran Prakashan Ltd. But he said regional markets were growing. Jagran sells 30 lakh plus copies in 11 states.

Amit Chopra, chief executive at Hindustan Media Ventures, said Hindustan was growing both in circulation and readership. The paper sells 2 million copies daily in markets such as Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, and Uttarkhand. “We are expanding further in UP. We’ve just put up a new printing facility in Gorakhpur,” Chopra said. He declined to comment on the Aaj Tak plan.

Varghese Chandy, general manager, Malayala Manorama, said the readership in Kerala was largely split between his publication and rival Mathrubhumi. “This is a high-literacy market and brand loyalties are already made. This market is tough to penetrate,” he said. Malayala Manorama sells nearly 2 million copies in the state.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Naveen Joshi on his way out

Naveen Joshi Executive Editor of Hindustan Uttar Pradesh is on his way out. Sources say that he may quit in next one week. Recently at a meeting held in Lucknow his powers were drastically cut by the new management. Ashok Pandey who is at present looking after the Hindustan Kanpur is said to be in the race to replace him at Lucknow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ranchi edition delayed

Sources in Dainik Bhaskar say that the launch of Ranchi edition has been delayed by almost two months. Recently interviews were conducted there and nearly 70 people reached to take part in it of which 10 are said to be from Prabhat Khabar. Rashtriya Sahara is also said to be reconsidering its plans for a Ranchi launch.

i next launches evening edition in Patna

i next the tabloid from Jagran group has launched an evening edition in Patna. The issue has been priced at Re 1.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rajkumar Singh to head Varanasi unit of Hindustan

Reliable sources in Hindustan say Rajkumar Singh has replaced Ravi Pant as editor at Hindustan, Varanasi. Pant has gone on a long leave and is said to be headed towards any other organisation. He may announce his resignation soon.