28 FEB 2024

Disney and Reliance to merge media businesses in India in a $8.5 billion joint venture

The companies will be combining their respective Star India and Viacom18 units into the newly created Star India joint venture, valued at roughly $8.5 billion on a post-money basis, excluding synergies. The venture will have over 750 million viewers in the coveted Indian market.

28 FEB 2024

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The audiovisual market in India is undergoing a revolution. India's conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited, Paramount's Mumbai-based Viacom 18 Media Private Limited, and The Walt Disney Company announced the signing of binding definitive agreements to form a joint venture that will combine the businesses of Viacom18 and Star IndiaAs part of the transaction, the media undertaking of Viacom18 will be merged into Star India Private Limited through a court-approved scheme of arrangement. In addition, RIL has agreed to invest at closing ₹11,500 crore (~US$ 1.4 billion) into the JV for its growth strategy. The transaction values the JV at ₹70,352 crore (~US$ 8.5 billion) on a post-money basis, excluding synergies. After completing the above steps, the JV will be controlled by RIL and owned 16.34% by RIL, 46.82% by Viacom18, and 36.84% by Disney. Disney may also contribute certain additional media assets to the JV, subject to regulatory and third-party approvals.

Who will be at the helm of this mega-complex? Mukesh Ambani's (RIL's owner) wife, Nita Ambani, will chair the joint venture, while Uday Shankar, a board member of Viacom18, will serve as vice chairperson. The joint venture will be one of India's leading TV and digital streaming platforms for entertainment and sports content, bringing together iconic media assets across entertainment and sports, including access to highly anticipated events across television and digital platforms through JioCinema and Hotstar. 

The partnership will also be granted exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India, with a license to more than 30,000 Disney content assets, providing a full suite of entertainment options for the Indian consumer. The venture will have more than 750 million viewers in the coveted Indian market, and the transaction is subject to regulatory, shareholder, and other customary approvals. It is expected to be completed in the last quarter of the Calendar Year 2024 or the first quarter of the Calendar Year 2025.

Mr. Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director of Reliance Industries, referred to the agreement: "This is a landmark agreement that heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry. We have always respected Disney as the best media group globally and are very excited at forming this strategic joint venture that will help us pool our extensive resources, creative prowess, and market insights to deliver unparalleled content at affordable prices to audiences across the nation. We welcome Disney as a key partner of Reliance group," noted.

On the other hand, Mr. Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, spoke about the expectation of penetrating the Indian market: "India is the world's most populous market, and we are excited for the opportunities that this joint venture will provide to create long-term value for the company. Reliance has a deep understanding of the Indian market and consumer, and 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," highlighted.