The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources, that Reliance-backed Viacom18 has reached an agreement to acquire 60% of Disney’s India unit, creating a $10 billion investment for the Indian conglomerate in the South Asian market. Dollar media giants blazed a trail.
According to the report, the Wall Street Journal said the deal will be completed this month, valuing Disney’s India unit at $3.9 billion, less than half of Disney’s India unit valuation originally hopedEarlier this week, Reliance declined to comment on its tie-up with Disney.
Viacom18 is owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, Paramount Global and James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree Systems Joint venture. Under the agreement, Disney will retain 40% ownership of its Indian unit, Reliance Group will acquire 51% and Bodhi Tree will hold 9%. %, the report said.
In 2019, Disney acquired the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox for US$71.3 billion, and the addition of Star India greatly promoted this measure.
The deal is an integral part of Disney’s global streaming expansion, which will see Disney acquire broadcast and streaming rights to the Indian Premier League, multiple multilingual television channels and an interest in a Bollywood film production company. At the time of the acquisition, Star-owned Hotstar had accumulated approximately 150 million monthly active users.
While Hotstar’s dominance in the Indian video streaming space continued for a few more quarters, things have changed since Reliance-backed Viacom18 became increasingly popular after acquiring the five-year streaming rights to IPL cricket matches gradually weaken Approximately US$3 billionDisney paid $3 billion for the same five-year rights, but to show the content on television.
Last year, Reliance poached many senior leadership and engineering talent to expand JioCinema and bring premium content from HBO and NBC to the on-demand streaming service.
The merger with Viacom18 brings together Rupert Murdoch’s son James and former Star India CEO Uday Shankar Uday Shankar) reunited to create a business they had spent years building. Murdoch helped Star India grow during his tenure as chairman of Star India’s former parent company Sky (then part of Fox). Shankar led Star India to achieve a milestone of 10 years till 2020.
Shankar and Murdoch previously launched a fund called Lupa and launched Bodhi Tree in 2021 with $1.7 billion in support from the Qatar Investment Authority. Agree to invest US$1.78 billion in Viacom18but then Reduce investment scale to approximately US$528 million.