Disney, Reliance to merge India media operations to create Rs 70,000 crore behemoth

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Mukesh Ambani and Bob Iger

Mukesh Ambani and Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger

New Delhi: Global media giant Walt Disney Co and billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries on Wednesday announced signing of binding pacts to merge their media operations in India to create a Rs 70,000 crore-behemoth.


A successful completion of the deal would create the biggest firm in Indian media and entertainment sector, with over 100 channels in several laguages, two leading OTT platforms and a viewer base of 750 million across the country.

"As part of the transaction, the media undertaking of Viacom18 will be merged into Star India through a court approved scheme of arrangement," a joint statement said.

"The transaction values the joint venture at Rs 70,352 crore (USD 8.5 billion) on a post-money basis, excluding synergies," it added.


Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, will chair the joint venture while Uday Shankar will be the Vice Chairperson.

Reliance and its affiliates will hold 63.16 per cent stake in the combined entity while Disney will have the remaining 36.84 per cent shareholding.

Reliance has also agreed to invest at closing Rs 11,500 crore into the joint venture to grow the OTT business.


"Post completion of the above steps, the JV will be controlled by RIL and owned 16.34 per cent by RIL, 46.82 per cent by Viacom18 and 36.84 per cent by Disney," the statement said.

Moreover, Disney may also contribute certain additional media assets to the joint venture, subject to regulatory and third-party approvals.

"The joint venture 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 (eg. Colors, StarPlus, StarGOLD) and sports (eg. Star Sports and Sports18) including access to highly anticipated events across television and digital platforms through JioCinema and Hotstar," it said.


The combined entity will have more than 750 million viewers across India and will also cater to the Indian diaspora across the world.

Further, the joint venture will be granted exclusive rights to distribute Disney films and productions in India, with a license to more than 30,000 Disney content assets.

Mukesh Ambani said this is a "landmark agreement" that heralds a new era in the Indian entertainment industry and welcomed Disney as a key partner of Reliance group.


"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," he said.

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said India is the world's most populous market, and is 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," he said.

This transaction is subject to regulatory, shareholder and other customary approvals. It is expected to be completed in the last quarter of calendar year 2024 or the first quarter of 2025.