India's Adani, NDTV founders seek regulatory clarification on stake sale

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

MUMBAI (Reuters) -India's Adani group and New Delhi Television said on Monday they had asked the market regulator to check if any regulatory restrictions prohibit the news network's founders from selling a major stake to the conglomerate.

NDTV and Adani have locked horns in public after the Adani group, run by India's richest man Gautam Adani, last week unveiled plans to control a majority stake in the popular news network.

Adani has tried to execute the takeover plan by acquiring a little-known Indian company, which gave 4 billion rupees ($50 million) in loans to NDTV's founders more than a decade ago in exchange for warrants that allowed it to buy a stake in the news group at any time.

Adani Group said last week it had exercised those rights, which NDTV said was done without its consent.

On Monday, NDTV said it had asked the regulator if a previous prohibition on the founders in an insider trading case restricted them from selling the stake.

In a separate statement, Adani said it had also written to SEBI seeking clarity to "avoid confusion in the minds of public shareholders of NDTV that has arisen".

SEBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

NDTV founders - Prannoy and Radhika Roy - have cited a 2020 order from SEBI, which they say prohibits them from dealing in India's securities market. According to NDTV, that means the Roys' entity can't transfer the shares Adani was trying to secure.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Mumbai and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Neha Arora and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)