Anand Bazar media group sells off Businessworld

Media group ABP Pvt Ltd has sold its business magazine Businessworld to Anurag Batra of Exchange4media and investment banker Vikram Jhunjhunwala, who is representing a set of investors, in what could be the first instance of an online portal buying a print magazine in India.

Recently, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos had bought news daily The Washington Post for $250 million.

The ABP group publishes two popular daily newspapers, The Telegraph in English and the Anand Bazar Patrika in Bengali, which are dominant in eastern India. It also publishes seven periodicals apart from Businessworld .

ABP managing director and chief executive D D Purkaystha confirmed to Business Standard newspaper that the media giant had sold its fortnightly to Anurag Batra and Vikram Jhunjhunwala.

''We have just closed the deal with Anurag Batra of Exchange4media; Vikram is representing a set of investors in this deal,'' the newspaper cited an unnamed ABP official as saying. He, however, didn't specify the size of the deal.

Apart from Businessworld , ABP publishes seven other periodicals. Launched in 1981, Businessworld is India's oldest business magazine, and was the only weekly business publication till recently, when it turned into a fortnightly like its main competitors Business Today, Outlook Business and Business India.

Purkayastha told Business Standard's Prosenjit Datta would continue to hold the post of editor of Businessworld. The magazine has an editorial staff of 51. ''A final call on the employees would be taken after a round of meetings,'' said a source.

The transition may take about a month.

Exchange4media was set up in 2000 to cater for the marketing, advertising and media sector. The company's portfolio includes magazines such as Pitch, Impact, FranchisePlus, Realty Plus and web portal exchange4media.com. The company had earlier said it planned to launch more niche titles and expand abroad. Earlier, Jhunjhunwala was managing director, FiNoble Advisors Pvt Ltd.

Many news dailies and magazines have cut the number of pages and a number of magazines have shut shop amid a squeeze on advertising caused by the ongoing economic slump. Recently, the Outlook Group shut three of its magazines - Marie Clare, Geo and People.

Network 18, which runs channels such as CNN IBN, CNBC TV18, CNBC Awaaz and IBN 7, has let go about 500 employees, terming the process as inevitable restructuring (See: 'Bloodbath' at TV18 Group as sacking spree begins).

NDTV Profit, too, went through a restructuring drive.

The Indian business magazine market is estimated at Rs100 crore. Costs have risen about 10 per cent this year, while growth in the segment has been merely seven per cent.

Industry data show magazine readership stands at 83 million, while business magazines have a readership of 3.63 million, Business Standard reports.