TV9 former CEO Ravi Prakash moves tribunal to buy majority stake in company

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V Ravi Prakash, former chief executive officer of popular multilingual television channel TV9, on Monday moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in Hyderabad seeking to take over the channel management – Associated Broadcasting Company Private Limited (ABCL) by buying majority stake in it.

Ravi Prakash, who was founder-director of ABCL was sacked as director and CEO on May 10 last year for allegedly cheating the company promoters.

The company, which was originally promoted by Srini Raju of iLabs, was acquired by Alanda Media and Entertainment Limited, jointly promoted by real estate major My Home Group and construction giant Megha Engineering and InfrastrAll Postsucture Limited (MEIL) which bought 90.54% of shares.

Ravi Prakash, however, still owns a minor stake of 8.82 per cent in the company, though he was sacked from the board. On October 5 last, he was later arrested by the Banjara Hills police in Hyderabad in connection with alleged siphoning off Rs 18.31 crore from the company and was released on bail on October 26.

In his latest petition in the NCLT, Ravi Prakash said the TV9 channel had run into losses ever since the new management took over the company. The company’s valuation report prepared in August 2020 stated that the present share value of the company in the market is Rs 78.32 per share, as against Rs 252 per share when it was taken over by the new management, he said.

“The profit after taxes of the company which was Rs 16.78 crore for 2018-19 went down to a loss of Rs 56.09 crore at the end of 2019-20 financial year. For 2020-21, the company projected a loss of Rs 58.78 crore,” Ravi Prakash pointed out, adding that the projections indicate that the company does not foresee any positive results for the next four years.

In an attempt to have an amicable settlement with the new management, the former CEO said he had proposed to sell his minor stake of 20 lakh shares in the company at the original rate of Rs 252 per share, but the management offered to buy the same only at Rs 78.32 per share as per the market value.15

“What is worse, the management claimed that I was holding only 5 lakh fully paid-up equity shares and the remaining 15 lakh shares were only partly paid-up shares. In fact, the previous board of management on May 6, 2019, had resolved to convert these 15 lakh shares into fully paid-up shares and I had even paid Rs 1.35 crore for the same. The board resolutions and payment details were sent to the Registrar of Companies and Union ministry of corporate affairs,” Ravi Prakash said.

He said now that the company itself had projected in its valuation report that the share value had come down to Rs 78.32, he requested the NCLT to allow him to take over the majority stake in the company at this price, since the present management had pushed the profit-making company into losses.

When contacted, a top executive of the ABCL, who preferred not to be quoted, said there was absolutely no merit in the petition filed by Ravi Prakash before the NCLT. “When nobody in the company is willing to sell his stakes, where is the question of Ravi Prakash buying them, let alone taking over the management?” he asked.