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Paramount Global selling stake in Viacom18

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US film and television giant Paramount Global announced that it would sell its stake in Indian media venture Viacom18 to another Indian entertainment firm, Reliance.

The $517 million deal would transfer Paramount’s entire 13 per cent stake to Reliance, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a US regulator.

Completion of the transaction remains subject to regulatory approval, as well as the finalisation of a transaction announced in February between Reliance, Viacom18 and Disney, Paramount said.

Last month, Disney and Reliance agreed to merge their Indian media businesses, creating an $8.5 billion entertainment giant in the world’s most populous nation.

That plan envisions Disney merging its Indian television subsidiary with Viacom18, with Reliance helming that joint venture.

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Disney will hold a 36.8 per cent stake in the project, Reliance will hold 16.3 per cent, and Viacom18 46.8 per cent.

Viacom18 is a subsidiary of TV18, owned by Reliance, which means Reliance will therefore hold, directly or indirectly, a majority stake in the joint venture — a position that increases further following the Paramount transaction.

Disney has so far struggled to succeed on its own in India’s massive media market.

The joint venture will also help both Reliance and Disney stave off competition from traditional rivals such as India’s Zee Entertainment and Japan’s Sony, as well as streaming competition from Amazon and Netflix.

According to documents submitted by Reliance to the National Stock Exchange of India, the sale would increase Reliance’s stake in Viacom18 to just over 70 per cent.

Paramount will continue to license content to Viacom18, according to the SEC filings.

(AFP)

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