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Reliance Industries And Disney Announce Merger; Nita Ambani to Lead Combined Entity

Reliance Industries, Viacom18, and Disney finalize a merger, infusing Rs 11,500 crore. Reliance to hold 46.82%, Viacom18 46.82%, and Disney 36.84% stakes. The joint venture integrates Viacom18 and Star India, aiming to dominate Indian media with renowned brands, digital transformation, and exclusive Disney content. Leadership by Nita Ambani and Uday Shankar. Expected completion in late 2024 or early 2025, pending approvals.

Edited By : Aniket Raj | Updated: Feb 28, 2024 19:35 IST
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Reliance Industries Limited, Viacom 18 Media Private Limited, and The Walt Disney Company have formally concluded an agreement by signing binding contracts to merge their media enterprises. This collaboration will integrate the operations of Viacom18 and Star India, with Viacom18’s media segment becoming part of Star India Private Limited through a court-sanctioned arrangement scheme.

An important element of this arrangement involves Reliance’s pledge to infuse Rs 11,500 crore (approximately US$ 1.4 billion) into the joint venture upon its conclusion, underscoring its commitment to the venture’s expansion plan. The transaction assesses the joint venture at Rs 70,352 crore (around US$ 8.5 billion) post-money, excluding synergies. Upon the merger’s finalization, Reliance Industries Limited will primarily oversee the joint venture, holding 46.82 percent ownership, while Viacom18 and The Walt Disney Company will respectively possess 46.82 percent and 36.84 percent ownership stakes.

The joint venture is positioned to emerge as a formidable presence in both traditional television broadcasting and digital streaming in India, consolidating prestigious media assets spanning entertainment and sports sectors. Esteemed brands such as Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD, Star Sports, and Sports18 will be unified under a single entity, offering access to highly anticipated events through platforms like JioCinema and Hotstar. With a projected outreach to over 750 million viewers within India and an aim to serve the global Indian diaspora, the joint venture anticipates significant market penetration and influence.

Centered on digital transformation, the joint venture is dedicated to delivering consumers top-tier and all-encompassing content accessible anytime and anywhere. By harnessing the expertise and diverse content libraries of Viacom18 and Star India, the joint venture endeavors to furnish engaging entertainment content and live sports streaming services, thereby presenting a pioneering digital entertainment encounter at competitive rates. Furthermore, Disney’s vast collection of renowned films and shows will enrich the joint venture’s offerings, furnishing an irresistible entertainment experience to audiences not only in India but also across the globe.

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Disney will grant exclusive distribution rights for its content in India to the joint venture, including a license to over 30,000 Disney assets, thereby broadening the array of entertainment choices accessible to Indian consumers.

The leadership roles within the joint venture will be assumed by Mrs. Nita M Ambani as Chairperson and Mr. Uday Shankar as Vice Chairperson, who will provide strategic direction for the venture.

The completion of this transaction, expected in either the last quarter of Calendar Year 2024 or the first quarter of Calendar Year 2025, is contingent upon obtaining regulatory and shareholder approvals.

Goldman Sachs, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Khaitan & Co, and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co are advising RIL and Viacom18 on the transaction, while the Raine Group, Citi, Cleary Gottlieb, Covington & Burling, AZB, and BDO are advising Disney and Star India Private Limited.

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First published on: Feb 28, 2024 07:35 PM IST

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