Anil Ambani’s Reliance ADA Group is to further cut back its involvement in the Indian media and entertainment industry.In two transactions with a total value of some $283 million, Reliance Capital will sell the entirety of its remaining TV business to Zee Entertainment and a 49% stake in FM radio operations to Zee Media.The TV businesses under Reliance Big Broadcasting, Big Magic and Azalia Television include two general entertainment channels and four specialty channels.The radio group includes 45 radio stations...
Anil Ambani became chairman and CEO of Reliance Group (aka Reliance ADA) in 2002 when Reliance Industries, a conglomerate formed by his father Dhirubhai Ambani, was split in two. That set him at bitter odds with his older brother Mukesh Ambani, who heads the rival Reliance Industries and now controls a media empire of his own, as well as the recently launched Reliance Jio broadband and phones venture.
Anil quickly identified media and entertainment as growth areas, buying up Adlabs in 2005, with cinemas, distribution and film processing as its core businesses. That was complemented by moves further into post-production, TV production and TV and radio broadcasting. In 2008, the company paid $1.2 billion to invest in Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks.
But lately most of Reliance ADAG’s media moves have turned to ashes. Focusing increasingly on capital intensive infrastructure projects, Ambani has withdrawn in all but symbolic fashion from most of the entertainment positions he took a decade ago. Market leading positions in theaters and post-production crumbled and have been sold. TV joint ventures collapsed.
Ambani and Reliance Entertainment’s name continues to appear on the credits of a smattering of movies per year, thanks to a restructured deal with Steven Spielberg’s new Amblin Partners. Reliance Entertainment also retains a minority stake in Hollywood sales and finance company IM Global, after Ambani sold the majority to China’s Tang Media.
Ambani is currently selling off a wide range of assets beyond the media sector to erase massive debt across his company. In November 2016, Reliance announced the sale of the entirety of its remaining TV business to Zee Entertainment and a 49% stake in FM radio operations to Zee Media.