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Ashish Bagga, president, Business Standard Digital Ltd, has put in his papers. He is slated to join Living Media as executive director of the Business Group from May. "I am leaving BSDL to explore bigger opportunities at Living Media," he told agencyfaqs!
Ashish Bagga's resignation comes at a time when the newspaper industry is abuzz with rumours that Business Standard is scaling down its Internet plans drastically. Sources at rival publications say that BSDL's most ambitious project MintSreet.com, which was to be pitted directly against the Times group's Net project, has been shelved and its content head has proceeded on a lecture tour abroad. A few hands in the content team based in Mumbai have been relocated on other jobs and at other centres, it seems.
Do these developments have anything to do with Bagga's departure? Bagga is emphatic that there are no problems with BSL's Internet plans. "BSDL has two products: business-standard.com and MintStreet.com. business-standard.com, the content of which comes directly from the newspaper, is doing just fine and we are earning a lot of revenues from that. We sell content to corporates, publications, financial institutions and a whole lot of others. The other product, MintStreet.com, was supposed to have been launched in June-July this year. The only thing that has happened is we have decided to put off the time for launch, given the gloomy market scenario. It is not as if we are abandoning the Internet plans," he reiterated.
It appears that Bagga had a stake in BSDL, which insiders estimate at 5 per cent. Bagga refused to talk about the size of his stake and said, "I'm not clear what's going to happen to my share though." For now, he is looking ahead to his new stint which obviously represents "a bigger growth potential" for him.
To put things into perspective, it was only some months back that the Living Media group was divided into three strategic business groups: the India Today mega brand group, which has IT English and Hindi (both national and international editions) is directly under the aegis of group CEO Aroon Purie; the Business Group, which comprises magazines like Business Today, Computers Today, Time, Harvard Business Review and some chartered accountancy magazines, is currently looked after by N P Singh; and the Lifestyle Group, with magazines like Cosmopolitan, Teens Today, India Today Plus, is under the supervision of Mala Sekhri. Bagga will take charge of the Business Group.
In a sense, it would be home coming for 39-year-old Bagga, who'd put in nine years at India Today at an earlier stint between 1983-1992. Prior to BSDL, Bagga had put in five years at Hindustan Times, where he joined as vice-president, marketing, in 1995 and got promoted to the position of marketing director in 1997. "I have worked with Mr Purie before and I have great regard for him. I had no doubts when he made me this offer," says Bagga with his characteristic calm.
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