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Financial Times rewrites plans for India, to end Business Standard deal

Financial Times is ending its 15-year relationship with the Business Standard, says a report in Mint. BS will retain the right to use the FT brand as well as content through at least 2008.

As of now, FT is closing an online content deal with Network 18 Media and Investments Ltd, the diversified media conglomerate, which, through its TV18 India Ltd, runs CNBC TV18 as well as financial news portal in India.

Some details:

While a content relationship between FT and Network 18 is believed to be already in place, it is yet unclear as to what stake Pearson will have in this new online venture as that process is still being finalized and would need to be eventually cleared by the government, though foreign holdings in Indian Web ventures are not highly regulated, unlike investments into the Indian print media.

People familiar with the matter say that the FT relationship with Network 18 is likely to lead up to a business newspaper relationship as well, once FT and BS formally part ways. Network 18’s primary owner and managing director Raghav Bahl has long wanted a financial daily to complement his market-leading business news channel as well as to complete a growing portfolio of news and related offerings.

Business Standard Ltd is majority owned by Mumbai-based financial services conglomerate Kotak Group. Uday Kotak, vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, and the group jointly own a 55% stake, while promoters of Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd own 28%, according to a senior board member of the newspaper company, who didn’t want to be named. BS editor is the well-regarded T.N. Ninan, who also has an ownership stake in the venture.

The Financial Times Group still holds approximately 14% stake in BS, which it picked up in 2003. It is unclear how the stake will be valued or disposed of, as overall media valuations in India have soared since then.

But Pearson itself is believed to have written off the value of the stake in its books, given the difficulties the company has faced in terms of expanding in India or extricating itself from the relationship, though the company wouldn’t respond to questions about this accounting change.

Prior to 2003, the two newspapers had a syndication relationship that allowed BS to carry articles that appeared in FT.

Date posted: March 10, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 323