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HomeBusinessDisney’s India unit to merge with Reliance: Report

Disney’s India unit to merge with Reliance: Report

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India’s Reliance Industries has signed a “binding pact” for a merger deal with Walt Disney’s local unit, Bloomberg News reported Monday, a major shakeup for the country’s multi-billion dollar entertainment industry.

India’s entertainment market is already one of the world’s biggest, with the expected merger set to create a vast and powerful entertainment giant.

The report of the deal comes as billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, chairman of oil-to-telecoms giant Reliance Industries, readies to host Disney chief Robert Iger on March 1 for his son’s wedding in India’s western Gujarat state.

Bloomberg said the deal is expected to see the media unit of Reliance and its affiliates hold at least a 61-percent stake in the merged entity, with Disney holding the rest.

There was no immediate response from either Disney or Reliance.

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Disney has been under significant pressure ever since Iger left the company only to be brought out of semi-retirement more than a year ago when his successor underperformed.

Ambani, 66, is the world’s 10th-richest person according to the Forbes real-time billionaires list.

He has invited a guest list of powerful businessmen and politicians to celebrate the wedding of his son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant, the daughter of an industrialist, from March 1-3.

Broadcaster CNBC-TV18, partially owned by Reliance, said Ambani’s guest list included Meta head Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, along with investment and banking chiefs, plus Bollywood and cricket stars.

Other guests include Ivanka Trump, the former US president’s daughter, as well as ex-Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and the King of Bhutan.

Last month a proposed $10 billion merger between India’s Zee Entertainment and the local unit of Japanese giant Sony was called off, reportedly because of disagreements over who would lead the new entity. (AFP)

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