Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), the venture capital arm of world’s biggest mobile phone-maker Nokia, has picked up 3.51 per cent stake in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd from the market, as part of its ‘share-swap’ deal with India’s largest news network and media conglomerate. According to a statement made to the bourses, Network18 has said that Nokia Growth Partners has swapped its investment in the group’s Internet arm Web18 Holdings for shares in the listed holding company.

Nokia Growth Partners, a venture capital firm with $350 million under management, made a $10 million investment in Web18 Holdings in October, 2009. But as a part of the group’s restructuring, Web18 was absorbed by Network 18 Media & Investments, leaving Nokia Growth Partners with an option for getting its investment back or buying into the listed parent. It has picked up 3.51 per cent stake in the company from the markets for Rs 53.7 crore, at Rs 128.45 per share, last week.

While an official of Network18 confirmed the development, an e-mail query sent to Nokia Growth Partners did not elicit a response. The share price of Network18 was trading at Rs 124 on Thursday morning, marginally up 0.12 per cent.

Network18 had announced a restructuring of its business last year, which came into effect from June, 2011. Other shareholders in Network18 include private equity firm SAIF Partners (9.23 per cent stake), ChrysCapital chief Ashish Dhawan (2.85 per cent) and Tiger Global Mauritius Fund (1.74 per cent).

Web18, which is the group’s Internet and mobile division, runs the financial news portal, general news and entertainment site and ticketing & event booking site, among others. The division has reported 16 per cent increase in revenue to Rs 85 crore, with an operating profit of Rs 1 crore in FY11.

“Network18 is already one of Nokia’s preferred media partners in India and NGP’s continued investment confirms our belief in the future growth potential of Network18 and our commitment to India. We are excited about the digital media opportunity in the country. Network18’s market-leading brands and digital properties spanning the Internet, television, mobile and print, offer a compelling way to leverage this growth opportunity,” said Paul Asel, managing partner of Nokia Growth Partners.

Nokia Growth Partners has recently led an $8 million round of funding in Quikr, a horizontal classifieds player. It has also invested in Innovis Telecom Services (a company that provides turnkey services in mobile and fixed-line telecom space), Netmagic Solutions (managed IT hosting service provider) and Techprocess Solutions (electronic payments processing). Nokia Growth Partners manages a $250 million venture capital fund and also makes fund-of-funds investments from another $100 million corpus.

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