India’s Reliance Industries Buys Stake in Balaji Telefilms

Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. is acquiring a 24.9% stake in leading content provider Balaji Telefilms for $64.2 million, part of Reliance’s push into the entertainment sector. Balaji operates the digital content platform ALT and will use the Reliance investment to grow the business further.

Led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Reliance operates in the telecom, petroleum, retail, and media spheres. The group’s 2016 annual revenue was $44.7 billion.

Balaji Telefilms produces most of India’s top-rated Hindi-language television content, including “Naagin,” “Kum Kum Bhagya,” and “Ye Hai Mohabbatein.” The Balaji-produced “Chandrakanta” is currently airing on the Colors channel operated by Network 18, the media group in which Reliance owns a controlling stake.

Lipstick Under My Burkha” (pictured), a film that initially ran afoul of Indian censors but was subsequently cleared, is being distributed from Friday by Balaji’s films division, Balaji Motion Pictures, alongside ALT.

“This investment in content production (including digital content) is in line with [our] commitment to invest and grow in telecom, digital, and media businesses,” Reliance said in a statement.

In 2014, the company acquired a controlling stake in Network 18, which operates several news, entertainment, and lifestyle channels, including Colors, CNBC TV 18, MTV India, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and History TV 18. Revenues for the Network 18 group in 2016 were $530 million.

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