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Reliance, Disney sign deal to merge media ops in India: report

Deal between US entertainment giant and media arm of Indian conglomerate may be announced this week

Reliance, Disney sign deal to merge media ops in India: report
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

US entertainment giant Walt Disney has signed a binding agreement to merge its media operations in India with Reliance Industries Ltd, Bloomberg reported, citing people aware the development.

Reliance’s media venture will own about 61% of the merged entity and Disney the rest, according to the terms of the deal, which is likely to be made public this week.

Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries was in talks to buy Disney’s share in satellite TV service network Tata Play, Business Standard reported earlier this month.

The oil-to-telecom conglomerate may acquire Disney’s 29.8% stake in Tata Play, the report said, adding that if the deal fructifies, this would be the first ever tie-up between two of India’s biggest conglomerates–Tata and Reliance.

Tata Sons owns a 50.2% stake in Tata Play and Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek owns the remaining 20% stake.

Reliance has housed a slew of TV channels and JioCinema streaming app under this Viacom18 media unit.

Reuters had reported earlier this month that Reliance was close to a merger deal with Disney’s India media business, valuing the latter’s operations at about $3.5 billion.

The Disney-Reliance transaction forms part of a larger trend of consolidation in India’s media and entertainment landscape.

Japan’s Sony group had sought to merge its domestic unit with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd before the deal fell through last month.

Sony ‘s local unit, Culver Max Entertainment, is now looking to buy a strategic stake in Arha Media and Broadcasting, which operates South Indian streaming platform aha, Mint reported on Monday, 26 February.

Regional broadcaster Sun TV Networks is reportedly among the suitors for a stake in the joint venture between Geetha Arts and My Home Group.

Launched as a Telugu content service in March 2020, aha later rolled out original content in Tamil.

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