Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), spearheaded by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, continue to be hungry for acquisition and consolidating its might in the business across sector. Reports now say that he is all set to acquire over 50 percent stake in Disney India, setting the stage for a colossal merger between the two media giants in the coming months, according to a report by Reuters.
Reliable sources indicate that Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance is eyeing a substantial 51-54 percent stake in Disney India, assigning a valuation of $3.5 billion to the US entertainment behemoth’s domestic business. This marks a notable decline from the initial estimate of $15-$16 billion for Disney, reflecting the impact of the impending merger.
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Likely to pick up 51% stake in Disney India
While RIL is anticipated to secure a 51 percent stake in Disney India, an additional 9 percent is slated to be acquired by Bodhi Tree, a joint venture helmed by James Murdoch and former top Disney executive Uday Shankar. The merged entity will see Disney retaining around 40 percent stake.
Disney’s foray into India’s TV and streaming market has faced challenges, particularly in the digital realm, where intense competition over cricket streaming with Ambani’s platform has led to a significant user exodus. The battle for exclusive streaming rights for Indian cricket matches between Disney Plus and Jio Cinemas has overshadowed Hotstar, resulting in a substantial decline in viewership.
This strategic deal is poised to reinforce Reliance’s dominance in India’s $28 billion media and entertainment sector, especially following the recent collapse of a separate $10 billion merger between Japan’s Sony and India’s Zee Entertainment.
The formalization of the deal between Reliance and Disney is expected to occur in February 2024, culminating in the creation of the largest media and streaming entity in India. However, a specific date for the finalization of the merger has not been disclosed.
With both Reliance and Disney boasting a streaming service and a collective total of 120 television channels, the prolonged discussions between the two entities aim to forge an entertainment powerhouse in the world’s most populous nation. Through this transformative merger, Viacom18, the broadcast division of Reliance Industries, is set to amalgamate with Disney’s India businesses, shaping the landscape of the country’s media industry.