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AZB, Khaitan get nod on elaborate Rs 1,500+ cr Reliance-Network18 deal [Update: +Amarchand for banks]

Media empires start at home
Media empires start at home
Exclusive: AZB & Partners Mumbai and Khaitan & Co’s Delhi office have scooped the mandate to advise on Reliance Industries bid to invest in two Network18 subsidiaries for more than Rs 1,500 crore ($290m).

Khaitan & Co Delhi partner Bharat Anand, who joined Khaitan & Co from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2009, is acting for Network18 according to multiple sources.

It is understood that Mumbai partner Shuva Mandal, who handles the majority of AZB’s work for Reliance, is acting for Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate.

Under the deal Reliance will fund rights issues of up to Rs 2,700 crore each of Network18 Media and Investments, and TV18 Broadcast, with Network18 Group promoter Raghav Bahl picking up a sizable stake of the shares, reported Techcircle.

Update 21:47: According to an authoritative source, Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai managing partner Cyril Shroff and capital markets partner Yash Ashar are representing the banks on the rights issue.

Reliance will buy equity convertible debt, that will give Ambani’s company significant stakes in the Network 18 Group.

The Economic Times reported the value of the complex, multi-layered deal as at least Rs 1,500 crore, on 3 January.

TV18 Broadcast has also granted board approval for the outright acquisition or stake buys in regional Hindi news channels and entertainment news channels owned by Reliance worth up to Rs 2,100 crore ($395m), according to Techcircle.

Reliance subsidiary Infotel Broad Band Services meanwhile would get preferential access to the content of Network18, TV18 and other related companies.

Subsidiaries included in the media empires include CNBC-TV18, CNN-IBN, MTV, Colors and moneycontrol.com.

AZB and Khaitan had also worked across the table from each other in Reliance’s $217m stake acquisition in the Oberoi hotel chain in August 2010.

Partners from both firms declined to comment when contacted.

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