• | 11:30 am

Reliance, Disney merge Indian media biz to create $8.5 billion giant

Nita Ambani will be the chairperson of the joint venture, while Uday Shankar will join as vice chairperson

Reliance, Disney merge Indian media biz to create $8.5 billion giant
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Reliance Industries Ltd has signed a binding agreement with Walt Disney Co. to combine the businesses of Viacom 18 and Star India, the conglomerate informed the stock exchanges on Wednesday.

The transaction values the joint venture, which will emerge as one of India’s leading TV and digital streaming platforms for entertainment and sports content, at ₹70,352 crore, or $8.5 billion, on a post-money basis.

Following regulatory compliance and approvals, the joint venture will be controlled by RIL (16.34%), Viacom 18 (46.82%), and Disney (36.84%). Nita Ambani will be the chairperson, while Uday Shankar as vice chairperson will provide strategic guidance to the JV.

The deal brings together media assets including Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD and sports channels such as Star Sports and Sports18, apart from access to highly anticipated events across television and digital platforms through JioCinema and Hotstar.

The joint platform will host more than 750 million viewers across India and cater to the Indian diaspora worldwide.

The announcement of this joint venture came after Sony Group called off the merger of its India unit with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zee) last month.

RIL has agreed to invest ₹11,500 crore($1.4 billion) into this joint venture. 

The transaction is expected to be completed in the last quarter of this calendar year, or the first quarter of next year.

Subject to regulatory and third-party approvals, Disney may contribute additional media assets to the JV, the RIL media statement said. 

The JV will also be granted exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India, with a license to more than 30,000 Disney content assets, providing a full suite of entertainment options for the Indian consumer.

Speaking about the JV, Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, said, “This strategic joint venture will help us pool our extensive resources, creative prowess, and market insights to deliver unparalleled content at affordable prices to audiences across the nation. We welcome Disney as a key partner of Reliance group.”

Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Company, said, “Reliance has a deep understanding of the Indian market and consumer, and together we will create one of the country’s leading media companies, allowing us to better serve consumers with a broad portfolio of digital services and entertainment and sports content.”

Uday Shankar, Co-founder of Bodhi Tree Systems, said, “We are privileged to be enhancing our relationship with Reliance to now also include Disney, a global leader in media and entertainment.

Shares of Reliance Industries were up marginally on Thursday from Wednesday’s close.


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