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Adani closes in on India's NDTV takeover as founder entity transfers shares

FILE PHOTO: New Delhi Television (NDTV) microphone is seen on roadside in New Delhi

BENGALURU (Reuters) -New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) said on Monday an entity backed by its founders had issued shares to a unit of Adani Group, taking the billionaire Gautam Adani-led conglomerate a step closer to taking over the media firm.

The transfer of shares will give Adani control over a 29.18% stake in the news group. Adani is also conducting an open offer running between Nov. 22 and Dec. 5 for a 26% stake in NDTV.

The open offer drew bids for 5.3 million shares as of Monday's close, or around 32% the 16.8 million shares on offer, exchange data showed.

The ports-to-energy conglomerate run by Asia's richest man unveiled plans late in August to acquire a majority stake in the popular news network, seen as a bastion of independent media.

More than a decade ago, NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy took a 4 billion Indian rupee ($49.00 million) loan from a company that Adani acquired in August. In exchange, they issued warrants that allowed the company to acquire a 29.18% stake in the news group.

NDTV had sought to block the transfer of shares in August, saying its founders had since 2020 been barred from buying or selling shares in India's securities market, and so cannot transfer shares which Adani was trying to secure in a bid to exert control.

NDTV said the entity backed by its founders issued shares after the market regulator's restrictions on its founders expired on Nov. 26.

($1 = 81.6380 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)