Reliance Industries Ltd., led by Mukesh Ambani, is reportedly on the verge of finalizing a multi-billion dollar deal with Walt Disney Co. to acquire Disney’s India operations. Following the transaction, Reliance Industries is expected to secure a controlling stake in the Disney Star business, estimated to be valued at around $10 billion. Walt Disney Co. will retain a minority stake in the business. However, there is a valuation discrepancy, with Reliance assessing the assets at a range of $7 billion to $8 billion. The two companies are anticipated to announce this substantial acquisition next month, with the potential for further consolidation if Reliance merges some of its media units with Disney Star.
About the deal
The deal’s terms and valuation have yet to be definitively agreed upon. Under the proposed arrangement, Disney is likely to retain a minority stake in the Indian firm post-cash and stock swap. There’s also the possibility that Disney may hold onto the assets for an extended period. As of now, Disney’s Indian representative hasn’t responded to requests for comment, and a Reliance spokesperson declined to comment.
Reliance entering in entertainment industry
Mukesh Ambani has been steadily expanding his presence in the entertainment industry. Notably, Reliance secured the Indian Premier League streaming rights for a staggering $2.7 billion in 2022. Subsequently, Ambani’s JioCinema platform broadcasted the popular domestic cricket tournament for free, further disrupting the market.
Multi-year agreement of Reliance with HBO shows
Reliance also secured a multi-year agreement to broadcast HBO shows from Warner Bros Discovery Inc. in India, previously under Disney’s purview. Despite Disney Star grappling with declining subscriber numbers, the media group has continued to invest and explore various options for the business, including an outright sale or potential joint ventures.
Nevertheless, Disney’s India streaming platform still managed to draw a record 43 million viewers for the men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match between India and New Zealand, surpassing the 35 million viewership achieved during the highly anticipated India-Pakistan match earlier this month.
The impending deal with Reliance Industries underscores Mukesh Ambani’s significant influence on India’s entertainment landscape and further solidifies his expanding media empire.