Grapevine: Times Group to sell minority stake in web arm; T Rowe to up UTI Trustee holding

By Ankit Agarwal

  • 19 Aug 2020
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Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL), also known as Times Group, is looking to sell around 10% stake in its internet unit to expand the business in one of the world’s fastest growing digital markets, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

The company is looking to bring in financial and strategic investors for Times Internet Ltd including global technology companies and aims to start discussions with suitors this month, they said.

The people added that it is too early to determine the value of the minority stake sale as deliberations are at an early stage.

Also, US asset manager T Rowe Price is looking to increase its stake from 26% to 51% in UTI Trustee Company after acquiring a little more than 8% each from Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), State Bank of India (SBI), and Bank of Baroda (BoB), two people in the know told The Economic Times.

T Rowe Price is already the largest stakeholder in UTI Mutual Fund. The role of the trustees is to ensure that the mutual fund is run in the interest of unit holders. This would allow the investor to indirectly get a bigger say in the operations of the mutual fund.

SBI, LIC, Punjab National Bank (PNB) and BoB each own 18.5% each in UTI Trustee and 18.24% each in UTI Asset Management Company. 

The decision to sell the stake follows Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) fining the entities Rs 10 lakh each for not cutting their holdings in both firms since these companies already own mutual funds.

PNB will retain its stake in UTI Trustee as it does not own a mutual fund.

Meanwhile, Navi Technologies, promoted by Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal, is in talks with promoters of private life insurance companies to acquire a stake. 

The group is understood to have held talks with promoters of Future Generali Life Insurance and is also looking at DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance, The Times of India reported.

This follows its acquisition of DHFL General Insurance, reported in January 2020.

The Kishore Biyani-promoted Future Group has been in talks to sell its stake in both its life and non-life ventures in a bid to reduce debt.

DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance has also been on the block for a while now.

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