Ashwini Phadnis

New Delhi, Sept. 7

Media West Ltd, an investment vehicle of Essel group, has acquired a 60 per cent stake in the domestic news agency United News of India (UNI). The proposed stake, which is being acquired for a consideration of not more than Rs 50 crore, is still to be cleared by the UNI board that is scheduled to meet on September 26.

The decision to purchase the stake is being considered to strengthen and add value to the DNA newspaper, which has been launched by the Essel and Bhaskar group through a joint venture, Diligent Media.

"At present, DNA is a Mumbai-centric newspaper, but it has plans of being a national newspaper. Acquiring a news agency will be of tremendous value as it provides readymade infrastructure in the domestic and international market," industry analysts said.

At a later stage, Media West Ltd, could do a due diligence on whether to acquire the remaining stake in UNI or not. The proposed acquisition if cleared would not lead to retrenchment of existing UNI staff, sources indicated. Though they also maintained that there was no plan of closing down the news agency and using its infrastructure exclusively for DNA, industry analysts feel that this could be a likely move in the future. UNI was launched in March 1961.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 8, 2006)
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