Viacom18 and Star India merger talks in advanced stage

MUMBAI: Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries and Walt Disney Company are in advanced discussions for signing an agreement to merge Star India and Viacom18 to create India’s largest media empire, spanning over 100 TV channels and two streaming platforms, according to people privy to the development.

Reliance could hold more than 51% of the shareholding in the proposed Star-Viacom18 merged entity, with Disney owning a 40% stake, one of the people said. Uday Shankar and James Murdoch-promoted Bodhi Tree Systems’ stake in the merged entity could be 7-9%. Another person said Reliance is anticipated to inject additional capital in the merged entity, establishing it as a direct subsidiary.

Star and Viacom18 generated combined revenue of Rs 25,000 crore in the fiscal ended March 31, 2023. Apart from TV and digital assets, the combined entity will also own sports assets like the Indian Super League and the Pro Kabaddi League. Reliance has valued Star India at around $4 billion, adjusting for losses from cricket rights and the drop in Disney+ Hotstar subscriber base, resulting in a combined entity valuation of $8 billion, said a top executive in the know.

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