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 currently in operation as well as a further 14 which have licenses but are not yet functioning. License provisions mean that Reliance must hold the business a while longer and Zee has an option to buy the remaining 51% after each station has been on air for three years.
“This acquisition which further adds to our expanding universe of general entertainment channels. BIG Magic gives us access to comedy genre enhancing our customer offerings. BIG Ganga, a leading Bhojpuri channel syncs with our strategy of expanding into the regional markets which offers attractive growth potential,” said Punit Goenka, Punit Goenka, MD & CEO, ZEEL.
“We are happy to divest 100 per cent of our general entertainment TV business to Zee Entertainment. This transaction is part of our strategy to reduce exposure in non-core businesses and work towards further reducing debt under Reliance Capital,” said Sam Ghosh, executive director and group CEO, Reliance Capital.
A decade ago Reliance ADA set out to become a global player in film and media. Within India it acquired and expanded Adlabs into the country’s largest cinema chain and its largest post-production services supplier, while also hatching TV joint ventures with RTL and CBS. In 2008 its Reliance Entertainment backed Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and soon after acquired a majority stake in Stuart Ford’s IM Global.
These have nearly all withered, collapsed or been sold off and domestic production and distribution has ceased. The group recently sold IM Global to Chinese-U.S. investment group Tang Media and though it remains a minority shareholder in Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, China’s Alibaba is the marquee name partner.
Anil Ambani’s brother and business rival Mukesh Ambani has meanwhile stepped up his involvement in Indian media. Mukesh Ambani and his Reliance Industries holds a controlling stake in Network 18 Group, the joint venture partner in the Viacom 18 film and TV conglomerate.