Buy-outs and realignments among newspaper majors

Three players are in the news. Kolkata-based Anand Bazaar Patrika sought to buy out Star’s shareholding in the joint-venture, Media Content & Communications Services India (MCCS).

05 Apr 2012 | By Ramu Ramanathan

And seven years after entering into a 50:50 partnership, there are speculations that Zee is on the verge of buying out Dainik Bhaskar (DB) Corp’s stake from Diligent Media Corporation, which publishes DNA, the daily English language newspaper.

And finally,  Jagran Prakashan announced the acquisition of NaiDunia Media Limited, by acquiring the publishing house’s parent company Suvi Info Management (Indore).

We visited the Nai Dunia office in Indore, and the company was bullish. With the operations headed by the suave Vinay Chhajlani, the group had big plans. It is the third largest Hindi daily in the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh market. Now, in spite of a steep cash outgo, the deal will give Jagran an entry into two key states which are dominated by DB. 

At the moment, Jagran Prakashan publishes 37 editions and over 200 sub-editions of its newspaper Dainik Jagran. With the Nai Dunia move and the acquisition of  Mid-Day Multimedia’s print business, the group will focus on increasing its circulation in the all-India market and monetise its revenue through advertisements.

India continues to be a market characterised by newspaper under-penetration. We’ve a total of 325 million readers and a newspaper industry which generates Rs 172 bn ($ 3.8 mn) in sales in 2010, according to World Association of Newspapers. KPMG expects this figure to rise by 9% per year over the next four years to Rs 267 bn ($ 5.9 bn). To achieve this, media groups have to invest.

To sweat the equity, the publishing firms will have to increase circulation and launch niche markets which capture new newspapers  segments. Key players have been doing this. But with India boasting of more daily newspapers than any other country in the world and leading in paid-for daily circulation (surpassing China for the first time in 2008), the opportunities are through JVs and acquisitions and re-alignment of forces.

With non-availability of funds, smaller players will be acquired by bigger groups. This enables a newspaper to draw cost synergies in terms of rationalisation in the employee strength and newsprint prices, as Jagran is doing through the Mid Day and Nai Duniya deal. Or focus on growth in regional markets as DB is doing through the raft of launches in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Watch this space for new directions in media in 2012.