Disney nears deal to sell $10-billion valued India business to Reliance -Bloomberg News

FILE PHOTO: Disney+ Hotstar logo is seen in this illustration taken August 22, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

BENGALURU -Disney is nearing a deal to sell its India operations, which it values at around $10 billion, to Reliance Industries, its biggest rival in the country, rather than sell the business in parts, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.

Disney has been exploring options to sell or find a partner for its India assets, Reuters reported in July, and has held talks with billionaires Gautam Adani and Sun TV Network-owner Kalanithi Maran as well as private equity firm Blackstone, according to various media reports.

However, Disney may now sell a controlling stake in the business to Reliance, the Mukesh Ambani-controlled conglomerate whose streaming platform’s success has weighed on the U.S. company’s Indian business, Bloomberg reported.

Reliance, whose broadcast venture Viacom18 runs JioCinema, values Disney’s India assets, which comprises the Disney+ Hotstar streaming service and Star India, at between $7 billion and $8 billion, the report said.

The enterprise value of the India business, Disney’s biggest last year globally by users, was seen at around $15 billion to 16 billion when Disney took over Fox’s business.

The deal could be announced as early as next month, although no final decision has been made and Disney could still decide to hold onto the assets, Bloomberg reported.

Disney and Reliance did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

JioCinema has put increased pressure on Disney India and other streaming platforms, with Ambani marketing the platform by offering free access to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, digital rights of which were earlier with Disney.

“If Reliance offers Disney content free of cost, the growth rate for the OTT industry will be lower because subscription video-on-demand revenue will not happen,” said Karan Taurani, senior vice president and research analyst at Elara Securities.

The “sizeable” overlap in Reliance-owned TV18 Broadcast and Disney in the urban genre might create regulatory resistance and some channels may need to be shut down for clearance, Taurani said.



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