Indian billionaire Gautam Adani is seeking to boost his media investments in an ambitious expansion plan, according to people familiar with the matter, as he diversifies his conglomerate from its shipping and coal-mining roots.
The Adani group is exploring buying stakes in some local television and print news outlets while a few have approached the conglomerate also to study potential deals, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Deliberations are preliminary and there’s no certainty they will result in a transaction, the people said.
A representative for the Adani group declined to comment.
Media is the latest frontier for Adani, 59, in a simmering rivalry with compatriot Mukesh Ambani, 65, as the two compete to dominate India’s $2.7 trillion economy. Just weeks ago, the younger tycoon dethroned the latter as Asia’s richest man. Like Ambani, who expanded from oil refining and petrochemicals into telecommunications, retail, technology and media, Adani is also widening his footprint by adding airports, data centers and other businesses to his empire. Both have unveiled a combined investment of about $146 billion in green energy over the next few decades.
Just last month, Adani Enterprises Ltd. established AMG Media Networks, an arm it said would be in the business of “publishing, advertising, broadcasting, distribution of content over different types of media networks.” In March, Adani Media Ventures Ltd. agreed to buy a stake in Quintillion Business Media Pvt., according to a statement. Quintillion was an Indian partner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.
Adani Enterprises’s shares have surged almost 32% this year while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex has slipped 4.4%, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The Adani Group will focus on acquisitions to expand rapidly rather than starting outlets from the ground up, the people said. While approaching prospective targets, it has offered to remain a financial investor and refrain from interfering in the editorial decisions of the organizations, two of the people said. The conglomerate hired Sanjay Pugalia last year to head Adani Media Ventures as it sharpened the focus on the sector.
Scaling up the business will give Adani a meaningful presence in an industry where Ambani has already made his mark through his Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. The Adani conglomerate is interested in media assets with the right fit, no matter the size, one person said.
Adani’s foray into the nation’s media space also heats up the race for a market of almost 1.4 billion people, which is already crowded with domestic and global giants ranging from Sony Group Corp. to Netflix Inc. and James Murdoch.
Sony will be combining with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., a local network founded by Subhash Chandra, to create a $10 billion giant by the end of 2022. In April, a firm set up by Murdoch and a former executive of the Walt Disney Co. announced a plan to invest $1.8 billion in a venture backed by Ambani.
The net worth of Adani, a shy first-generation entrepreneur, is about $118 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Ambani’s fortune is pegged at $100 billion.