SpiceJet's Ajay Singh to take control of NDTV: report

Ajay Singh, co-founder and owner of SpiceJet Ajay Singh, is reportedly taking control of NDTV with its founders Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and promoter firm RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd facing a CBI probe for allegedly concealing a share transaction.

According to reports, Ajay Singh will have controlling stake in NDTV of around 40 per cent and the promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy will hold around 20 per cent in the company.

SpiceJet and NDTV have, however, denied any such move. In a filing with the stock exchanges, an NDTV spokesman has clarified that the promoters of the company have not entered into any agreement for sale of their stake in NDTV.

However, a report in the Indian Express citing sources said the deal is almost done.

''Yes, the deal has been finalised and Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV along with editorial rights,'' a source has been quoted as saying in the report.

The CBI conducted searches at the residences of the Roys on 5 June for allegedly causing financial losses worth Rs48 crore to ICICI Bank in connection with a transaction. The Roys, however,  termed it as a ''blatant attack on the freedom of the press,''

NDTV, in a statement, said that the CBI had filed its FIR based on a ''shoddy complaint'' by a ''disgruntled'' former NDTV consultant who has not obtained a ''single order from the courts.''

Stock market data available with BSE showed the promoter holding in NDTV as of June 2017 stood at 61.45 per cent while the public held the remaining 38.55 per cent.

NDTV has been making losses for the last 10 years and the accumulated losses of the company stand at Rs1,474 crore.

There is also a political tangle to the likely deal as Singh is a known supporter of the ruling BJP and has been even part of the party's 2014 election campaign.

The channel, which has a few editors who are critical of the BJP government and the Hindutva ideology of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation for alleged irregularities in a share transaction.

The report said Ajay Singh will also pick up NDTV's debt of over Rs400 crore and the total deal is valued at around Rs600 crore. A part of the cash (up to Rs 100 crore) will also go to the Roys.

Singh who acquired SpiceJet in January 2015 and turned it around had earlier served as the BJP's campaigner and it was he in 2014 coined the campaign slogan ''abki baar Modi Sarkar.''

Singh had served as OSD to Pramod Mahajan during the first NDA government and played an active role in the launch of DD Sports and was also behind the planning of DD News.

In 1996, he was asked to serve on the Board of Delhi Transport Corporation and prepare a plan to revamp DTC. He is known to have played a key role in its turnaround and in the two and a half years that he spent at DTC, its fleet rose from 300 to about 6000. He also turned around the grounded ModiLuft and renamed and launched it as SpiceJet

An alumnus of Delhi's St. Columba's school, Singh is a graduate of IIT Delhi, an MBA from Cornell University and a Bachelor's degree in Law (LLB) from Law Faculty, University of Delhi.