Disney and Reliance have signed a non-binding agreement that would see the two companies merge their Indian media operations the Economic Times of India is reporting. The deal would see Reliance owning a controlling 51% stake with Disney holding the remaining 49%. The merger creates the biggest media empire in India.
The deal was reportedly made by Kevin Mayer for Disney and Manoj Modi for Reliance. Mayer was brought in last summer by Disney CEO Bob Iger as a consultant. Mayer previously was an executive for The Walt Disney Company who was instrumental in the creation of Disney+. Disney acquired Star India as part of its acquisition of 20th Century Fox. It started looking at options for the property last summer as well.
This deal is expected to be finalized early in 2024. Reliance is aiming for the process to be completed by the end of January 2024. Regulatory approvals could mean that the deal would be completed in February. Once completed, the new entity will include an equal number of board members from both Reliance and Disney. There is also the possibility of two independent directors. This will be determined in the coming weeks. It will also have an investment of $1 to $1.5 billion in the business. Reliance’s OTT platform Jio Cinema and Disney + Hotstar are also expected to be a part of the deal. As this deal gets firmed up, expect more details about what exactly the final product will look like. It is believed that this will be a competitor to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon once the deal is completed and the new entity is created.
Reliance Industries is India’s most valuable company. It is owned by Mukesh Ambani. He is the richest person in Asia and also the 15th richest person in the world. Reliance Industries is a multinational conglomerate that has businesses the include energy, petrochemicals, natural gas, retail, telecommunications, mass media, and textiles. It is the 100th largest company worldwide and India’s biggest private tax payer. The first iteration of the company was created in 1958.
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