This acquisition is anticipated to occur in the months leading up to the mega-merger.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), helmed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is gearing up to acquire a majority stake of over 50 percent in Disney India as part of the impending mega-merger between the two media entities, as per Reuters. It is anticipated that Reliance will secure approximately 51-54 percent stake in Disney India, assigning a valuation of $3.5 billion to the U.S. giant’s domestic business. The valuation of Disney has undergone a substantial reduction due to the merger, previously estimated at $15-$16 billion before the agreement.
In this acquisition, RIL is projected to acquire around 51 percent stake in Disney India, with an additional 9 percent to be secured by Bodhi Tree, a joint venture between James Murdoch and former top Disney executive Uday Shankar. Following the merger, Disney is expected to retain approximately 40 percent stake in the amalgamated entity.
Disney’s television and streaming operations in India have encountered challenges, marked by a decline in its digital platform’s user base amidst intense competition in cricket streaming, notably against Ambani’s platform. The rivalry between Disney Plus and Jio Cinemas for exclusive streaming rights to Indian cricket matches has significantly impacted Hotstar’s viewership.
This acquisition is poised to reinforce Reliance’s dominance in India’s $28 billion media and entertainment market. The move comes at a crucial juncture, particularly following the recent collapse of a separate $10 billion merger deal between Japan’s Sony and India’s Zee Entertainment last week.
The anticipated agreement between Reliance and Disney is scheduled to be signed in February 2024, marking the consolidation into the largest media and streaming entity in India upon completion of the merger. Nevertheless, an official date for the finalization of the deal has not been disclosed at this time.
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