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Reliance and Disney sign pact to merge media business

In a big entertainment deal, two giant companies, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Walt Disney Co, have agreed to join forces in India. According to a report from Bloomberg, they’re merging their media businesses.

Under the deal, Reliance and its related companies will own at least 61% of the newly merged company, while Disney will own the rest.

Disney plans to sell 61% of its Indian business to Viacom 18 for around $3.9 billion (Rs 33,000 crore). Viacom18 is owned by Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). Earlier reports suggested Disney was selling 60% of its Indian business to Viacom18. This deal is expected to be a big deal in the Indian media and entertainment world.

Sony of Japan recently dropped its plan to merge with Zee Entertainment due to disagreements about who would lead the new company.

Disney has faced criticism from activist investor Nelson Peltz for not planning succession well. To address this, they’ve appointed two new directors – James Gormon, CEO of Morgan Stanley, and Sir Jeremy Darroch, former group chief executive at Sky.

Disney has tried to make its mark in India twice before, first in 1993 with KK Modi’s Group and then by investing in Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV, but those attempts didn’t go as planned.

Investor interest in Disney’s India business has been declining since 2022, especially after losing the online streaming rights for the IPL tournament from 2023-2027, despite still holding the broadcast TV rights.

Conclusion:

The merger between Reliance Industries Limited and Walt Disney Co marks a significant development in the Indian media and entertainment industry. With Reliance taking a majority stake in the merged entity and Disney’s strategic sell-off to Viacom18, the landscape of media operations in India is set to undergo notable changes. This move not only reflects the ongoing transformations within the industry but also underscores the competitive dynamics and the pursuit of growth opportunities in the rapidly evolving Indian market. As Disney navigates its third entry into India, facing challenges and seizing opportunities, the success of this merger will depend on effective integration strategies, market adaptability, and continued innovation in content delivery.

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