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BW Businessworld

King Of His Orbit

The highest paid executive of India Inc. knows how to run his show

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Kalanithi Maran, an Indian media baron who is the CMD of Sun Group, owns a diverse portfolio of television channels, newspapers, weeklies, FM radio stations, DTH services and a movie production house. From 2010 to 2015, Maran even held a major share in  Spice Jet.

Maran and his wife Kavery Kalanithi received a remuneration of Rs 78 crore in 2016-17, which was an increase of 10 per cent from 2015-16 making them highest paid executives in the media industry and among the top in India Inc. This rise was attributed mainly to a rise in ex-gratia/bonus, as their salary remained constant and Maran also received a dividend of Rs 295.56 crore. According to their company’s 2016-17 annual report, Maran and his wife received Rs 13.14 crore each, which was the same as 2016.

Starting his business in 1993, Maran currently holds 75 per cent of the shares in the company. While he received a dividend of Rs 295.56 crore in 2016-17, in the preceding years of 2015-16 and 2014-15, Maran received a dividend of Rs 458.12 crore and Rs 399.02 crore, respectively.

The total earnings of the company in FY17 increased by 8.03 per cent, from Rs 2,502.75 crore in the previous financial year, to upto Rs 2,703.80 crore. Continued growth and consistently higher margins indicate the company’s dominance in the broadcasting business, especially in the Southern states. As the highest paid CEO in the country, he owns 77 per cent of the country’s largest national broadcaster, with 20 television channels and 46 FM radio stations.

Maran also co-owns Sun Direct, a direct-to-home television service, along with Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan’s Astro group, which has over 4.5 million subscribers. Maran’s hold over distribution channels in South India is the reason for Sun TV’s dominant share in the market. Sun Network also reaches across 95 million people in India and around 27 countries abroad, including Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the US. Maran also owns and is the chairman of Kal Publications.