HT Media Q1 results hit by pandemic

HT Media acquires VCCircle from News Corp

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Hindustan Times the flagship English daily of the HT Media group
Hindustan Times the flagship English daily of the HT Media group

On a standalone basis, HT Media’s total revenue at Rs 96.17 crore in Q1 of FY 2020-21, represents a steep 71% drop from the Rs 334.61 crore revenue in Q1 of the previous financial year. HT Media Limited has achieved a consolidated revenue of Rs 239.84 crore in the quarter ending 30 June 2020, representing a drop of 59% from the Rs 588.27 crore figure in the same period in the previous year (FY 2019-20).

The EBITDA loss for Q1 FY2020-21 is Rs 28.39 crore compared to last year’s profit in Q1, which was Rs 89.03 crore. However, the net loss is lower this year at Rs. 55.64 crore compared to the net loss of Rs. 148.07 crore in Q1 of the last financial year.

Acquisition of VCCircle from News Corp

After its board meeting on 28 July 2020, HT Media announced that it would acquire Mosaic Media Ventures from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Mosaic operates news platforms VCCircle and TechCircle. HT Media will pay up to Rs. 6 crore plus Rs 1 later as a revenue lined milestone payment for 100% of the share capital.

According to HT Media, this strategic acquisition of an emerging B2B company will drive synergies across businesses. “The board of directors accorded approval to invest up to Rs 6 crore post working capital adjustment, and revenue linked milestones payment up to Rs 1 crore on a deferred basis, to acquire 100 % of the paid-up share capital of Mosaic held by NWS Digital Asia Pte Ltd and News Corporation (sellers), subject to finalization of definitive agreements,” submitted HT Media in a regulatory filing.

The company intends to “scale VCCircle and TechCircle to augment Mint’s tech and deals content editorial capabilities.” It also plans to unlock cost and revenue synergies and to leverage VCCircle’s events business while scaling up its database and research businesses.

Mosaic Media Ventures was incorporated in 2007 and operates two subscription-based news platforms – VCCircle and TechCircle. It also has two subscription-based research and database platforms – VCCEdge and SalesEdge. In addition, there is the events business.

Mosaic reported a turnover of Rs 9.1 crore in FY 2017-18; Rs 14.0 crore in FY 2018-19; and Rs 14.5 crore in FY 2019-20. HT Media informed the BSE in its filing that the acquisition will be done in cash and completed by 30 August 2020.

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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