On Friday, Indian tycoon Gautam Adani secured a majority stake in leading news broadcaster NDTV, finalising a hostile takeover that has sparked press freedom fears in the world’s biggest democracy.
Adani, 60, is the world’s third-richest person, with an estimated net worth of $130 billion and interests ranging from Australian coal mines to India’s busiest ports.
His business empire first began buying up NDTV shares in August: a move its founders Prannoy and Radhika Roy said had come without their involvement or consent.
After months of negotiations, the Roy family agreed to sell most of their remaining equity, and the Adani Group said in a Friday stock market disclosure that its subsidiary RRPR had bought a 27.26 per cent stake in the company.
The latest purchase gives Adani’s conglomerate a 64.71 per cent stake in NDTV, renowned for inviting government critics and its hard-hitting reporting.
Adani has pledged to guarantee the channel’s editorial independence, but also told the Financial Times last month that journalists should acknowledge when the government was performing well.
“Independence means if government has done something wrong, you say it’s wrong,” Adani told the British broadsheet.
“But at the same time, you should have courage when the government is doing the right thing every day. You have to also say that.”
This year, Adani overtook fellow Indian Mukesh Ambani to become Asia’s richest man, behind France’s luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault and Tesla boss Elon Musk.
However, his group’s growth into capital-intensive businesses has raised alarm, with analysts from Fitch Group’s CreditSights warning in August that it was “deeply overleveraged”.