Home FINANCE Reliance, Disney announce merger; Nita Ambani to be chairperson

Reliance, Disney announce merger; Nita Ambani to be chairperson

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NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Viacom 18 Media Private Limited, and the Walt Disney Company have officially announced a strategic joint venture, creating an $8.5 billion entertainment juggernaut far ahead of rivals in the world’s most populous nation. The collaboration aims to amalgamate the operations of Viacom18 and Star India, combining their vast media portfolios.
Nita Ambani, the businesswoman and wife of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is set to assume the role of Chairperson for the newly formed entity. Uday Shankar, a seasoned media executive, will serve as the Vice Chairperson, providing strategic guidance to the joint venture.
Reliance, led by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, will infuse Rs 11,500 crore (~US$ 1.4 billion) in the merged entity. The combined entity, valued at Rs 10,352 crore, will see Reliance and its subsidiary holding a majority stake of 63.16%, while Disney will retain ownership of 36.84%.
This strategic partnership is expected to create synergies that leverage the strengths of both conglomerates, offering a diverse range of content to a wide audience.
For Disney, the merger follows its long-drawn struggle to arrest a user exodus from its bleeding India streaming business and financial strain caused by billions of dollars in Indian cricket rights payments. The merger valued the India business of the Burbank-based entertainment giant at just around a quarter of the $15 billion it was valued at when Disney acquired it as part of its Fox deal in 2019, sources have said.

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The partnership was solidified through the signing of binding definitive agreements, wherein the media division of Viacom18 will be seamlessly integrated into Star India Private Limited (“SIPL”) through a court-approved scheme of arrangement.
Together, the Reliance-Disney merged entity will have 120 TV channels and two streaming platforms, helping Ambani emerge as a bigger, formidable force against rivals such as Japan’s Sony , India’s Zee Entertainment and Netflix in the $28 billion media and entertainment sector.
“The JV will be one of the leading TV and digital streaming platforms for entertainment and sports content in India, bringing together iconic media assets across entertainment,” the companies said in a joint statement.