TOI buys Virgin Radio

Media is the latest on the acquisition list of Indian companies after making investments abroad in the field of automobiles, steel and tea.

The Times of India Group, India's largest media enterprise, bought UK-based Virgin Radio for £53.2 million (Dh372m) on Saturday. The acquisition is significant as the first international takeover by an Indian media group.

Vineet Jain, Managing Director of TOI Group's parent company, Bennett, Coleman and Co, said: "[The purchase] sets the agenda for the Times Group and defines our key strategic priorities – to aggressively grow in India and cherry-pick assets and brands around the world."

Launched in 1993 and currently owned by Scottish broadcaster SMG, Virgin Radio was bought by Times Infotainment Media Limited Golden Square Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the TOI Group.

However, the new owners will not be able to use the Virgin brand name in India as British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson's group already has a joint venture with another Indian media house. TIML is likely to continue using the Virgin Radio name in the UK by paying a licence fee of £8m. And, to re-brand away form the Virgin name, the TOI group has already announced a budget of £15 million.

In the UK they are calling it an unlikely pairing. SMG is a local radio group that runs two stations in Oxford while the Indian company owns the Times of India, the English-language broadsheet with the largest circulation in the world, and the Economic Times. It also runs a radio network, Radio Mirchi and a TV news channel, Times NOW.

There is less surprise in India. A Times of India report quoted a source: "If [Rupert] Murdoch can do Hindi in India [with his Star TV network], why can't a large Indian media house do English in England?"

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