INM sells Jagran stake for €32m
INDEPENDENT News & Media (INM) sold its remaining stake in Indian newspaper publisher Jagran Prakashan for about €32m yesterday to reduce borrowing, but added that it remains interested in future co-operation between the two media groups.
The decision ends INM's lucrative investment in Jagran, which began in 2005 when the company bought a 26pc stake in the Bombay-based publisher.
The gradual sale of the stake over the past 14 months has yielded a profit of €67.5m for the Irish company.
INM, which publishes this newspaper, has been selling some titles and investments to pay off debt since the beginning of the credit crisis in 2007, which forced the company to delay repayments to some bond holders for several months.
The company sold off the London-based 'Independent' and the 'Independent on Sunday' to Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev's family in April.
It continues to own newspapers, radio stations and advertising companies in many English-speaking countries including South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
"We have been crystal clear that our immediate and continuing priorities are on reducing bank debt, achieving and sustaining leverage ratios at significantly lower levels and focusing on growing our market-leading brands in our core markets," INM chief executive Gavin O'Reilly said yesterday.
Mr O'Reilly noted that the five-year investment had been a "highly profitable one for INM, and I want to recognise the insight of former CEOs Tony O'Reilly and Liam Healy for initiating this investment".
Gavin O'Reilly will remain as an independent and non-executive director of Jagran following a request from the Gupta family, which is Jagran's majority shareholder.
"At the appropriate time, we shall continue to work with Jagran and the Gupta family in exploring other ventures in what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting media markets in the world," Mr O'Reilly said.
The company remained open to "the many exciting possibilities in the Indian media market in the future. I want to thank the Gupta family, and particularly chairman Mahendra Mohan Gupta, for their stewardship and ensuring so many years of successful partnership", he added.