CCI clears Aditya Birla group's acquisition of stake in Living Media

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved Aditya Birla group's purchase of 27.5 per cent equity stake in Living Media India Ltd, publishers of the India Today and other group magazines.

The Kumar Mangalam Birla-led group made the acquisition through IGH Holdings Private Ltd, an investment arm of the Aditya Birla Group.

The transaction, completed in May this year, received CCI nod on 14 August, but was made public through a CCI announcement today.

In its order, CCI observed that while both Aditya Birla group and India Today Group are engaged in retail business, the transaction ''is not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.''

Under the deal finalised in May, IGH will initially acquire a 24.9 per cent stake in Living Media India and then make an additional purchase of 2.6 per cent stake, taking the total equity acquisition to 27.5 per cent.

The Aditya Birla Group has agreed to purchase up to 49 per cent equity in Living Media over a period not later than September-end 2016.

The two companies had sought CCI approval for the initial purchase of 24.9 per cent stake and the subsequent acquisitions, including the purchases due to valuation adjustments.

As part of the stake sale plan, some businesses of Living Media, including Thomson Press (India), its subsidiaries and some other businesses would also be hived off.

After all transfers, the subsidiaries and associate firms of Living Media would include TV Today Network, ITAS Media, Today Retail Network, Today Merchandise, Harper Collins, Mail Today Newspapers, India Today Online, Universal Learn Today, Integrated Databases India and Automotive Exchange Pvt Ltd.

IGH would have certain statutory rights in Living Media, along with the contractual rights of the shareholders agreement.