India’s Reliance in talks to raise $1.6bn for media joint venture as Viacom seeks to trim stake – sources

A bird flies over a Reliance Industries logo installed at its market in Ahmedabad, India January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Amit Dave

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NEW DELHI, Jan 27 (Reuters) – India’s Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) is in talks with investors to raise up to $1.6 billion for its broadcast business as partner ViacomCBS seeks to reduce its stake in the joint venture, two sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Reliance is in talks with an investment firm set up by James Murdoch, son of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, and former Disney India executive Uday Shankar to jointly take a significant stake in the Viacom18 joint venture, the report said. one of the sources with direct knowledge.

Currently, Reliance owns a 51% stake in Viacom18, with ViacomCBS owning the rest. Viacom18 runs several TV channels in India, including Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

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If the deal goes through, Reliance would continue to hold a majority stake, while ViacomCBS’ stake is expected to drop to 10%, according to Indian media, which first reported on the deal talks earlier on Thursday.

Reliance, an Indian conglomerate run by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, declined to comment, saying the “company regularly assesses various opportunities”.

ViacomCBS, Murdoch and Shankar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The talks come amid growing competition in India’s dynamic broadcasting industry.

Sony’s Indian entertainment unit (6758.T) plans to buy local rival Zee (ZEE.NS), merging TV channels, movie assets and streaming platforms to become a dominant company in the sector . Read more

Indians are rapidly adopting streaming platforms including Netflix Inc and Inc’s Prime Video which are attracting users with cheaper packages and local language content.

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Written by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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