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Reliance, Viacom18, and Disney Announce Strategic Joint Venture to Transform Indian Entertainment Industry

Mumbai: Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Viacom 18 Media Private Limited (Viacom18), and The Walt Disney Company (Disney) have officially announced a groundbreaking joint venture that will integrate the businesses of Viacom18 and Star India. The strategic move involves merging the media operations of Viacom18 into Star India Private Limited (SIPL) through a court-approved scheme of arrangement.

As part of the transaction, RIL has committed to invest ₹11,500 crore (~US$ 1.4 billion) into the joint venture to fuel its growth strategy. The deal values the joint venture at ₹70,352 crore (~US$ 8.5 billion) on a post-money basis, excluding synergies. Post-transaction, RIL will control the joint venture with a 16.34% stake, while Viacom18 and Disney will hold 46.82% and 36.84%, respectively.

Disney has the option to contribute additional media assets to the joint venture, subject to regulatory and third-party approvals. Nita M. Ambani will serve as the Chairperson of the joint venture, with Uday Shankar as Vice Chairperson providing strategic guidance.

The joint venture aims to become a leading TV and digital streaming platform for entertainment and sports content in India. Iconic media assets, including Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD, Star Sports, and Sports18, will be consolidated under the joint venture. The combined entity, expected to have over 750 million viewers across India, will leverage JioCinema and Hotstar for content distribution. Additionally, the joint venture will play a pivotal role in the digital transformation of the Indian media and entertainment industry.

The joint venture will have exclusive rights to distribute Disney films in India, with access to over 30,000 Disney content assets. The collaboration is set to deliver a compelling digital-focused entertainment experience, blending Viacom18’s productions and sports offerings with Disney’s acclaimed films and shows.

Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director of Reliance Industries, expressed enthusiasm about the agreement, stating, “This is a landmark agreement that heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry. We welcome Disney as a key partner of the Reliance group.”

Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, emphasized the strategic value of the joint venture in the world’s most populous market. He stated, “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, highlighted the commitment to delivering exceptional value and shaping the future of entertainment in India.

The transaction is subject to regulatory, shareholder, and customary approvals, with completion expected in the last quarter of Calendar Year 2024 or the first quarter of Calendar Year 2025.

Goldman Sachs, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Khaitan & Co, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, The Raine Group, Citi, Cleary Gottlieb, Covington & Burling, and AZB played key advisory roles in the transaction. Ernst & Young and BDO provided independent valuations, and HSBC India offered a Fairness Opinion.

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