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Reliance Industries Nearing Multi-Billion Dollar Deal to Acquire Disney’s India Operations

Reliance Industries Ltd., led by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest tycoon, is reportedly nearing a significant deal involving cash and stock to acquire Walt Disney Co.’s operations in India. This deal revolves around Disney’s controlling stake in the Disney Star business, valued at approximately $10 billion, offering an alternative to the previously considered piecemeal transactions. Reliance assesses the assets at around $7 billion to $8 billion. The formal announcement of this acquisition is expected as early as next month, and it may include the integration of some of Reliance’s media units into Disney Star, although specifics remain undisclosed.

According to insiders, Disney is likely to retain a minority stake in the Indian company following the completion of the cash and stock exchange. It’s important to note that no final decision has been reached regarding the deal or its valuation. Disney might still choose to retain ownership of the assets for a bit longer.

Both Disney and Reliance declined to comment on the ongoing discussions. This potential deal underscores Mukesh Ambani’s growing influence in India’s entertainment industry. In 2022, he secured the streaming rights for the Indian Premier League for $2.7 billion and subsequently offered free broadcasts of the popular domestic cricket tournament on the JioCinema platform.

Furthermore, Reliance obtained a significant contract to broadcast HBO shows from Warner Bros Discovery Inc. in India, content that was previously held by Disney. Despite Disney Star’s challenges with declining subscriber numbers, the media group has been actively investing in the market. In the past, they explored various options for the business, including an outright sale or forming a joint venture.

Interestingly, Disney’s Indian streaming platform recently achieved a milestone by attracting a record 43 million viewers for the 2023 Men’s Cricket World Cup match between India and New Zealand, surpassing the viewership of the highly anticipated India-Pakistan match earlier this month, which had 35 million viewers.

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