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Alpha, SAM navigate HT buy of VCCircle in $1m likely-FDI-driven Newscorp exit

HT Media has acquired Mosaic Media Ventures, the company which operates business news platform VCCircle and tech news platform TechCircle, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday. HT Media said that this was a “strategic acquisition”. As part of the deal, HT Media will invest upto Rs 6 crore, and an additional “revenue linked milestones payment” of upto Rs 1 Crore on deferred basis, to acquire 100% of paid- up share capital of Mosaic Media. The acquisition will be completed by the end of August, the company said. VCCircle was acquired by America’s News Corporation in 2015.

Medianama

Alpha Partners acted for HT Media Limited, led by partner Akshat Pande, senior associate Richa Bhagat and associates Shreya Solenkey and Sankalp Srivastava.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas led for NewsCorp and its Singapore-based entity NWS Digital Asia Pte Limited with partner Aayush Kapoor and associate Meghna De.

HT Media has previously used S&R Associates in 2018 on its Editorji buy and in 2019 on its $30m buy into fashion retailer Koovs.

According to an Alpha statement, HT Media’s deputy GC Sachin Kalra commented about the reason for selecting Alpha for this deal, saying: “Alpha has wide experience in M&A which showed in their advice and execution of the transaction.”

VCCircle had revenues of Rs 14.5 crore in 2019-20, according to Medianama but market observers (and VCCircle’s own coverage of the deal) have suggested that US-based Newscorp was keen to divest its ownership due to the new foreign direct investment restrictions in digital media:

News Corp has not issued a statement yet but the transaction is believed to have been triggered by a change in India’s foreign investment norms for digital media businesses announced last year. The move restricted foreign investment in digital news media to 26%, in line with the FDI policy for print news publications. Prior to this rule there was no specific restriction on foreign investment in the digital news media business. This had allowed NYSE-listed News Corp to buy 100% of Mosaic Media in March 2015 from its founder and other private investors.

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