Amar Ujala acquires Cygnus Medicare for Rs 130 crore

Newspapers strengthen diversification investments

Cygnus Hospital in Karnal
Cygnus Hospital in Karnal

News reports on 25 November said that the publishers of Amar Ujala one of the leading Hindi dailies with centers in numerous cities in North India has acquired a majority stake in Cygnus Medicare (CM), a chain of super-specialty hospitals, for around Rs 130 crore. The investment is seen as a part of its expansion plans in the healthcare segment. Amar Ujala already owns two hospitals, and Cygnus Medicare has more than 1,000 beds across its ten super specialty hospitals in Delhi and Haryana. 

The Indian healthcare sector is expected to reach Rs 19,56,920 crore (US$ 280 billion) by 2020, according to the Indian Healthcare Industry Report by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF). With rising income levels, health awareness, and access to insurance are among the prominent contributors to health industry growth. 

The sector is expected to generate 40 million jobs in India by 2030, and the government’s Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection project is expected to create 100,000 jobs. The IBEF report shows that the hospital industry in India stood at Rs 4 lakh crore (US$ 61.79 billion) in FY17 and is expected to reach Rs 8,60,000 crore (US$ 132.84 billion) by FY22.

“We have concluded a deal of around Rs 130 crore with Cygnus Medicare to take over their ten hospitals and added our two hospitals in the overall portfolio,” Probal Ghosal, director, Amar Ujala, said to the Press Trust of India (PTI). The firm has acquired a majority share in Cygnus Medicare with management control, he added. Ghosal also clarified that the source of funds for the acquisition is from Amar Ujala’s internal accruals.

The investment of Rs 130 crore includes a significant primary commitment, with the merger of the two Ujala Healthcare hospitals as well as a secondary investment, which provides an exit to angel investors and a partial exit to existing institutional investors, Amar Ujala.

Amar Ujala, through its healthcare arm, will hold a significant stake in the merged entity, along with management control. The balance stake will be held by Eight Roads Ventures, Somerset Indus, Evolvence India, and the previous promoters – Dinesh Batra and Shuchin Bajaj. Batra and Bajaj will become board members of the merged entity and continue in their earlier roles, whereas Ghosal will become its chairman. 

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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