‘This Partnership Will Help Us Grow In The Lifestyle Space’: NDTV Networks’ Vikram Chandra

NDTV Networks CEO Vikram Chandra, also a key anchor for the group’s news channels, spoke to contentSutra from New York shortly after his company’s strategic partnership with Scripps was announced. Excerpts:

Congrats on the deal. What next for the company?

Thanks. This is a very exciting partnership for us. Scripps is the world leader in lifestyle programming and they have many successful properties. NDTV is the leader in this space in India and with this partnership, I think we should be able to do accelerate our growth in this genre.

We hear that you will first launch a food channel under the JV?

We will explore all options. Scripps has many excellent properties and in time we will take a call on what new channels we want to launch.

You also bought out bond holders in the company today. Why?

These were bonds maturing in 2012, but they had a put option in May 2010. If that option was exercised, we would have had to pay about $117 million to bondholders including the face value, accrued interest and premium on redemption. Now we have bought them out for $72.4 million. It was also because there were a lot of rigid clauses. We couldn’t restructure the company and we didn’t have the flexibility to do a lot of things that we wanted to. So that also played a part.

Some money from the Scripps deal will be used to pay back the bond holders and the rest we have arranged short-term financing from banks.

So I suppose you have cleared the path for Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) to buy NDTV Imagine?

I don’t know where that is coming from, but at any rate, I have absolutely no comment to that question.