NDTV’s partnership with 2G scam accused, Astro All Asia

In August 2014, CBI filed a charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis deal stating that former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his family had received a bribe of Rs 742 crore for coercing entrepreneur C Sivasankaran to sell his telecom company Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis.

CBI charge sheet had named Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi, T Ananda Krishnan, Malaysia-based promoter of Maxis, Augustus Ralph Marshall – who headed Maxis’ UK-based subsidiary Astro All Asia Network – and Sun Direct TV Pvt Limited, Astro All Asia Network, Maxis Communications and South Asia Entertainment, Mauritius.

In its charge sheet, CBI said that the bribe of Rs 549 crore in return of the favours was paid by Maxis through its subsidiary Astro All Asia Network Pvt Limited, based in the UK in the garb of investment (total investment of Rs 629 crore) in Sun Direct Pvt Limited, owned by Kalanithi Maran. The investment was done through purchase of shares of Sun Direct Pvt Limited by a Mauritius-based subsidiary of Astro Asia- South Asia Entertainment Holdings Limited.

Interestingly, in 2011, NDTV had sold 49 per cent stake for USD 40 million (about Rs 180 crore as on 3rd March, 2011) in its arm NDTV Lifestyle Holdings Pvt Ltd to Astro All Asia Networks. By a subscription of shares for USD 40 million, Astro All Asia Networks owned an effective indirect stake of 49 per cent in NDTV Lifestyle Holdings Pvt Ltd.

References:

1.) CBI press release: http://cbi.nic.in/pressreleases/pr_2014-08-29-1.php
2.) The Times of India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Aircel-Maxis-deal-CBI-charges-Marans-says-they-took-Rs-742-crore-bribe/articleshow/41223805.cms
3.) The Hindu Business Line: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/ndtv-concludes-stake-sale-in-lifestyle-arm-to-astro-asia/article1505923.ece

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