The auditor of NDTV, BSR & Associates partner, Rakesh Dewan has raised doubts over the company’s ability to sustain the operations. As per the audit report, the current liabilities of the company exceed its current assets which are valued at Rs 88.92 crore.
“We draw attention to Note I of the statement’ wherein it is explained that company, which runs television business, has incurred a net loss of Rs 10.16 crores (Rs 1,016 lakhs) and Rs 1.17 crores (Rs. 117 lakhs) during the quarter and six months period ended 30 September 2019: and, as of that date, the company’s current liabilities-exceed its current assets’ by Rs 88.92 crores (Rs 8,892 lakhs),” said the auditor report.
Subramanian Swamy- India’s foremost crusader against corruption who was instrumental in revealing NDTV’s ICICI Bank loan fraud, for which CBI registered a case against Roy’s in June 2017, tweeted, “NDTV closing down? Auditor’s Report tells that NDTV is not a Going Concern citing huge loss and liabilities.”
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) November 17, 2019
The company reported a loss of Rs 10.27 crore in the latest quarterly results, after five quarters of consecutive profit. The company blamed economic slowdown and fall in advertising revenues, for the quarterly loss. Patanjali, a prime contributor to NDTV advertising revenues, is suffering from huge loss. Therefore, the company has cut down the advertising expenditure.
In August this year, Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, the founders of NDTV were detained at Mumbai city airport from where they intended to travel to an ‘undisclosed destination’.
Previously, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the securities market regulator of the country barred the access of Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, the promoters of NDTV, to the securities market for two years. Both promoters were also barred from holding any management position in their company- NDTV for two years. They were barred from securities markets for insider trading.
SEBI in its order said that the agreement between VCPL and NDTV provided for RRPR issuing a warrant to VCPL, convertible into equity shares aggregating to 99.99 per cent of RRPR at the time of conversion at any time during the tenure of the loan or thereafter.
This clause itself would translate into 26 per cent stake in NDTV; in addition, it gave VCPL right to purchase from promoters all equity shares of RRPR at par value. In its 28 page open offer said the transaction between VCPL and NDTV “is not to secure the loan but to acquire control over all the affairs of the target company leaving only the right to control the editorial policies of NDTV to the promoters and borrowers, right from the day of execution of the loan agreement.”
SEBI said that VCPL has violated the laws of indirect control through a loan agreement, therefore “The notice shall, along with the offer price, pay interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum from the date when they incurred the liability to make the public announcement till the date of payment of consideration.” The stocks of NDTV surged by 20 per cent after the SEBI order to VCPL to make an open offer to NDTV.
The promoter group of NDTV is RRPR holding privately limited, named after its founders Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy. Radhika Roy is the sister of Brinda Karat who is Politburo member of CPM and was Rajya Sabha member for 2005-2011. Brinda Karat’s husband Prakash Karat was General Secretary, the highest decision-making member of CPM for 2005-2015. On the other hand, Prannoy Roy’s cousin Arundhati Roy is a political activist alleged to be involved in anti-national activities.
Prannoy Roy holds 15.94 per cent shares of NDTV and Radhika Roy holds 16.33 per cent. RRPR holding Pvt Ltd, a fully owned company of Roy’s holds another 29.19 per cent shares of NDTV.
In 2017, CBI had raided houses of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and at that time the Roys cried foul and portrayed it as an attack on media freedom. The order by SEBI will strengthen the case of CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED). CBI has already filed FIR which alleged that the Roys bought a house in South Africa by the diversion of 45 crore rupees from ICICI loan. CBI is investigating the Roys in tax fraud and a few other financial crimes.