I was just being told with a person close to the negotiations from the Private Equity side that Bennett and Coleman which is looking at a potential divestment sometime in early 2008. Any such divestment will potentially value BCCL at between Rs 40,000-50,000 crore, which at today's delightful exchange rates for erudite shoppers on Amazon, particularly those who like graphic novels is worth $12 billion. This of course is initial talk, there is indication that BCCL will divest any share, after all they do own two money printing presses called The Times of India and The Economic Times respectively.
However, if BCCL were to divest and if the cash did not go towards organising the craziest Bombay Times party ever, it would deal a killer blow to the hopes of several up and comers in the print media space - read Raghav Behl. As it is, Behl has made BCCL hurry up the introduction of a Hindi business paper (a translated ET) thanks to the tie-up with Jagran and his tie-up with Forbes to launch a monthly business magazine (nice piece here), after the ABP Group has waffled (as usual) on their Fortune tie-up. Any cash infusion in BCCL that ranges from $1-1.5 billion can be used by the paper to double its efforts across the country, maybe even finally launch a Chennai edition and also move beyond Hindi and Marathi when it comes to language papers.
And with masses of cash coming into print in 2007-2008 salaries will obviously move higher, but this begs one simple question. Where on earth are the journalists to man the papers? Heck, someone could even ask a doofus like me to become an editor (it actually did happen some time ago, making me almost choke on a batata vada). Now, that is a scary thought!