ZEEL to acquire Reliance entertainment TV business

MUMBAI: After selling its sports telecast business to Sony, the Subhash Chandra-led Zee group is on an acquisition spree. Two separate developments today saw Zee, through two different corporate entities, take full control of the general entertainment TV business and 49 per cent stake in the radio business of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance ADA group.

With these developments, speculation too has been proved correct that Anil Ambani’s Reliance is fast reducing its exposure in the media sector. Some other group companies of Ambani also control a DTH operation run under the brand name Reliance BIG TV. Reliance Capital informed the stock exchanges that by shedding its radio and TV assets it will reduce its debt by approximately Rs. 1,900 crore (US$ 283 million) upon final completion of stake sale transactions.

The board of directors of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) today approved the acquisition of the general entertainment broadcasting business of Reliance Big Broadcasting Private Limited, Big Magic Limited and Azalia Broadcast Private Limited, all part of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group Entities.

The acquisition has been facilitated through a scheme of demerger and execution of definitive agreements in relation to such proposed acquisition. The general entertainment TV broadcasting business undertaking, along with its assets, liabilities, licenses, trademarks etc., shall get demerged from BIG Magic Ltd, Reliance Big Broadcasting Private Ltd and Azalia Broadcast Private Ltd into ZEEL through a court-approved scheme.

The TV broadcasting business of Reliance Group entities currently comprises two operational general entertainment channels -- Hindi comedy channel BIG Magic and Bhojpuri-language GEC BIG Ganga -- and four other TV licenses.

ZEEL MD & CEO Punit Goenka, in a statement said, “We are pleased to announce 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 syncs with our strategy of expanding into the regional markets, which offer attractive growth potential.”

According to Reliance Capital ED and Group CEO Sam Ghosh, “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.”

The final acquisitions are subject to regulatory approvals and could take a year to be completed.

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