NEW DELHI: Prabhat Khabar, a Hindi daily published from Jharkhand, is expected to finalise a deal for offloading a significant stake by December 15, according to sources. Among those keen to pick up a stake are Bennett Coleman, HT Media, Dainik Bhaskar (one of the promoters of DNA), Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala. A couple of foreign investors are also in the fray. The potential investors have already put in `non-binding’ bids, sources added.
Prabhat Khabar vice-president KK Goenka declined to offer any comments on the proposed deal. But, it is learnt that merchant banker Edelwiess is on the job, to identify the best partner for the newspaper, which requires funds to expand its business and also launch two FM radio stations shortly at Jamshedpur and Ranchi.
Recently, Edelweiss had advised Karnataka-based Vijay Times for its deal with The Times of India.
Company officials refused to divulge the level of stake that would be offloaded, but sources pointed out that Prabhat Khabar wants to raise around Rs 50-60 crore for its expansions. With estimated sales at around Rs 30 crore, bidders are being careful about how high they should bid.
In the case of foreign investment, only up to 26% is allowed in newspapers. The print media has been attracting foreign players, for both investment and content-sharing deals. In the recent past, the Jagran group struck a deal with the UK’s The Independent; Business Standard with Financial Times; The Times of India group with Reuters for its TV channel; Hindustan Times with The Wall Street Journal (for content); and Indian Express with The Economist (for content). While The Independent picked up over 20% in Dainik Jagran, Reuters took 26% in Times Broadcasting, and Financial Times bought 13.85% in Business Standard.
Prabhat Khabar, which was launched in August, 1984, from Ranchi, was taken over by the Usha Martin group in October, 1989. Subsequently, editions were launched in Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Patna and Kolkata.
Currently, it claims to be the highest circulated newspaper in Jharkhand and the second largest Hindi daily in West Bengal. The paper is known for staying focused on social issues and exposing scams, including the Bihar fodder scam.