Adani becomes latest industrialist to foray into media business
According to reports, Billionaire Gautam Adani has purchased a minority stake in Quintillion Media, which operates The Quint digital media outlet. Owned by journalist and editor Raghav Bahl and his wife Ritu Kapur, this is The Quint's first significant shareholder to come from outside the family.
However, Adani is not the first industrialist to privately purchase shares in a media outlet. In fact, the Indian media has a strong tradition of industrialists owning and directly operating some of our oldest journalistic institutions.
The Times Of India
The Times Group is majority owned by descendants of the Sahu Jain family, a long standing industrialist family. They acquired the Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL) in the 1930s after a split in their industrial partnership from another major Indian industrial family, the Dalmias.
However, the Jain family has become so entrenched in the business where the living heirs, Vineet Jain and Samir Jain, work primarily as owners of the media industry their family has built.
Hindustan Times has been owned and operated by Shobhana Bhartia since she joined as the Chief Executive in 1986 when she was just 29. Bhartia is the granddaughter of the iconic industrialist GD Birla, and his son KK Birla, who was the chairman of the Hindustan Times.
Like the Jain family, Bhartia is a media professional.
She is married to Shyam Sunder Bhartia, head of the Jubilant Bhartia Group that runs companies like Jubilant Foodworks and has the master franchise for Domino's in India.
The India Today Group
The India Today Group, including both India Today and Aaj Tak, are largely owned by journalist-turned-entrepreneur Aroon Purie. However, Kumar Mangalam Birla of the Aditya Birla Group owns around a quarter of the company as well.
Unlike his father's cousin, Shobhana Bhartia at Hindustan Times, Birla does not play an active role in the day-to-day operations of the media outlet. Additionally, unlike the multi-decade Birla ownership of the Hindustan Times, the Aditya Birla Group has only owned shares in the India Today Group for a decade.
Network-18's largest private shareholder is Mukesh Ambani's family, though there is no evidence that the Ambanis take an active role in the day-to-day operations.
The company has a complex history. Founded in 1996, it was acquired by Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur in the mid-2000s.
By the 2010s, Network-18 had accrued massive debt, with a lot of it owed to Reliance. By 2014, Reliance completed a hostile takeover, and ever since the Ambani family has continued to consolidate its position announcing that the company was net debt-free in 2020.