PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: A top Bennett, Coleman & Co management honcho this evening confirmed that the Times of India has picked up a majority 76 per cent stake in the Vijaya Karnataka group for Rs 170 crore.
The deal was finalised on Tuesday in Bombay. With Vijaya Karnataka and Vijay Times now in its stable, BCCL will have a 60 per cent share of the morning newspaper market in Karnataka, the senior executive said.
"That should be enough to preempt Hindustan Times' planned entry into Bangalore!" the source added. "BCCL will retain Vijay Times as a regional brand and use ToI as a national brand."
Vijay Sankeshwar is estimated to have pumped in over Rs 60 crore on the three papers in the last five-plus years. The Rs 170 crore deal fetches him a cool Rs 100 crore return on his investment, plus some loose change.
Vijaya Karnataka, Vijay Times and Usha Kirana boast a combined ad revenue of around Rs 7 crore per month, with almost all of it coming from the Kannada paper. But Sankeshwar was reportedly losing around Rs one crore a month on the three papers.
Vijayanand Printers Limited, as per internal assessments, was expected to turn in profits from May 2007.