Disney and Reliance sign pact to combine their media businesses

Disney and Reliance sign pact

Reliance Industries and Walt Disney have officially agreed to combine their media businesses in India, according to people familiar with the situation who were cited in a Bloomberg report. The report stated that as Disney reevaluates its strategy in India amid fierce competition, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries is anticipated to own a 61% stake in the combined company.

The report stated that Disney’s additional local assets may be included at the time of deal finalization, which could affect the partners’ share distribution. Tata Play Ltd., a broadcast service provider in which Disney owns a minority stake, is another company that Reliance Industries is considering buying.

Disney and the Singaporean investment firm Temasek own the remaining shares of Tata Play, with Tata Sons currently holding 50.2% of the company’s ownership stake.

Disney and Reliance would combine to form a strong and significant media conglomerate in one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment markets after the merger was completed. According to the reports, Reliance is funding its 61% share with $1.5 billion.

With Reliance emerging as a direct rival in the over-the-top (OTT) market, Disney’s fortunes took a sharp turn, and the company underwent several crucial years prior to the merger. Although the two titans battled valiantly for the sports rights, Mukesh Ambani’s team beat Disney in 2022 to obtain the streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket competition.

Disney had previously owned HBO series, but Reliance secured a multi-year deal to broadcast the series from Warner Bros Discovery Inc. in the same year. Disney was compelled to provide free streaming of the ICC World Cup 2023 to Indian users of its mobile application due to fierce competition.

One of the two major deals in the Indian media and entertainment industry is the merger of Disney and Reliance. Due to differences over who would lead the newly combined media behemoth, Sony and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL)’s merger plans came to an abrupt end last month.

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