PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Regardless of the silence emanating from both sides, something is definitely brewing between the Hindustan Times group of Shobana Bhartia and the Vijay Karnataka group of Vijay Sankeshwar.
Well placed sources say there is more than a grain of truth in churumuri's story three days ago, but there is some disagreement about the numbers and the strategy.
HT, they say, is looking at a minority 26 per cent stake for Rs 310 crore, not a majority 76 per cent stake. This will enable HT to have the presence of two or three of its men on the Vijaya Karnataka board.
Vijay Karnataka, on the other hand, is hoping to use the funds to expand further in the south, by opening editions of the Kannada paper (along with Vijay Times) in Madras and Hyderabad, and also Bombay.
This strategy, they speculate, fits well with HT's plans for the south and its belief that the next growth area will be in the language media, as evidenced by its success with the Hindi Hindustan under Mrinal Pande.
Moreover, in the crowded South, HT will not be bleeding itself by setting up new editions; instead it hopes to piggyback on an already-established brand like Vijay Times to take on the Times of India.
Whether VT will meet the same kind of success in those States is easy to predict, but for a group that is bleeding heavily because to the failure of Usha Kirana to take off as hoped, HT's infusion of funds may be a godsend.
Meanwhile, HT Media, as part of its rightsizing, has decided to close its Jaipur edition.
ALSO SEE: IS HINDUSTAN TIMES BUYING VIJAY KARNATAKA?
Worse things have happened in the world of mergers and acquisitions, of course, but I seriously doubt that Hindustan Times, a Congress-friendly brand-conscious group, would want to sully its brand-image by tying up with Vijaya Karnataka, a paper run by a BJP MP turned Kannada Nadu founder turned JD(S) whippersnapper. I mean, HT riding piggyback on VT in the South? Come on, give me a break.