New Silk Route (NSR), the private equity (PE) giant that owns about 80 per cent in 9X Media, a leading music television network, has started discussions to sell its controlling stake. According to NSR officials, talks with strategic investors are in the initial stages. They didn’t disclose financial details.
Pradeep Guha, managing director, holds a minority stake in the channel. He said: “I have not yet decided to sell off my stake. Whether I can continue or not is dependent on if the new buyer shares my vision.”
He added, “I can say the business has grown in the past couple of years. We launched a Punjabi music channel, which has been No 1 since Day One. Our retro music channel, 9X Jalwa, is also among the top channels. Our Marathi channel is also No 1. I can say it’s an 80 per cent success story.”
NSR has appointed an investment bank to find a buyer for 9X. It had raised its stake in 2009, when Peter Mukherjea, who had launched 9X Media, exited from the business.
Darius Pandole, partner, New Silk Route Advisors, said: “9X is a leader in the music broadcasting space and has grown revenues at around 30 per cent per annum over the last few years. As a PE investor, we are working to achieve our return on investment targets. Changes in regulations provide additional potential of allowing for subscription revenues. The company has seen interest from strategic and financial investors, which is being evaluated."
Launched in 2007 as INX Media, the company started operations with a Hindi general entertainment channel, 9X, and added a music channel, 9XM, and an English news channel, NewsX. In January 2009, the network sold the English news channel to Indi Media. The Hindi GEC was sold to Zee Entertainment Enterprises in June 2010.
INX Media was renamed 9X Media in August 2010, with complete focus on its music business. It currently operates four channels, 9XO (international music), 9X Jalwa (classic Bollywood music), 9X Tashan (Punjabi) and 9X Jhakaas (Marathi).
Aneesh Vijayakar, partner, KPMG India, said: “For a media house which needs to add a bouquet of music channels, 9X could be a good buy. They have presence in regional music, with channels in Punjabi and Marathi, and plan to expand into South Indian markets. However, it depends on the strategy of the buyer — whoever wants to expand into ewer areas with music channels as strong assets.”
NSR, an Asia-focused growth capital firm founded in 2006 with $1.4 billion assets under management, has investments in Indian companies such as Capricorn Hospitality, KS Oils, Ascend Telecom Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel and VRL Logistics.
It is close to acquiring about 51 per cent stake in Mumbai’s cafe and restaurant chain, Cafe Moshe’s. And,is in talks with the promoters of north Indian restaurant chain Punjabi By Nature, to acquire a minority stake. NSR owns stake in Bangalore-based quick service restaurant chain Adigas Fast Food. NSR's key investments in India include Coffee Day Resorts and Hotels, 9X Media, Capricorn Hospitality, KS Oils, Ascend Telecom Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel and VRL Logistics.