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Business News/ Companies / News/  Disney, Reliance sign binding pact to merge media operations in India: Report
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Disney, Reliance sign binding pact to merge media operations in India: Report

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries is expected to own a 61% stake in the merged entity as Disney reassesses its strategy in India amid intense competition

In the first stage, The Walt Disney Co. will transfer the Indian TV and digital assets to a new company. (Reuters)Premium
In the first stage, The Walt Disney Co. will transfer the Indian TV and digital assets to a new company. (Reuters)

Walt Disney and Reliance Industries have signed a binding agreement to merge their media operations in India, a Bloomberg report quoted people familiar with the matter. The report said Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries is expected to own a 61% stake in the merged entity as Disney reassesses its strategy in India amid intense competition.

The representatives of Disney and Reliance declined to comment on the reports of the binding merger agreement.

The distribution of shares among the partners could undergo alterations based on the inclusion of Disney's additional local assets at the time of finalizing the deal, the report said. Reliance Industries is also mulling over the acquisition of Tata Play Ltd., a broadcast service provider, in which Disney holds a minority stake.

At present, Tata Sons holds the ownership interest, constituting 50.2% of the stakes in Tata Play while the rest of the shares are held by Disney and Temasek, an investment firm based in Singapore.

Inception of a media behemoth

After the completion of the merger, Disney and Reliance would create a powerful and influential media giant in one of the globe's rapidly growing entertainment markets. As per the reports, Reliance is investing $1.5 billion for its 61% stake.

The merger comes after some critical years for Disney as the fortunes of the US entertainment giant turned after Reliance became its direct competitor in the OTT space. The two giants fought hard for the sports right but in 2022, Mukesh Ambani's unit successfully outpaced Disney in securing streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament.

In the same year, Reliance clinched a multi-year agreement to broadcast HBO shows from Warner Bros Discovery Inc., which were previously under Disney's purview. Under intense competition, Disney was forced to stream the ICC World Cup 2023 free for the users of its mobile application in India.

Disney-Reliance merger is one of the two big-ticket transactions in the Indian media and entertainment space. Last month, the merger plans between Sony and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) ended on a bitter note due to disagreements regarding the leadership of the newly merged media powerhouse.

The shares of Reliance Industries closed 0.78% up on Friday at 2,986.55 apiece 

 

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Published: 25 Feb 2024, 04:42 PM IST
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