Television

Viacom completes process of 50% acquisition in ETV channels from Reliance

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MUMBAI: Viacom Inc, which received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to acquire 50 per cent equity stake in Prism TV for Rs 9.4 billion (approximately $153 million) earlier this month, has completed the transaction.

The transaction was completed today (31 July) between Nickelodeon Asia Holdings Pte Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc., and Shinano Retail Private Limited, a company effectively 100 per cent owned by Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited.

Prism runs five regional language general entertainment channels namely ETV Marathi, ETV Gujarati, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla and ETV Odia, all of which were recently rebranded under the Colors umbrella.

With this acquisition, Viacom Inc. will hold 50 per cent of Prism TV and the remaining 50 per cent interest will continue to be owned by the Network18 Group, Viacom?s partner in the Viacom18 joint venture.

Viacom18 operates 10 channels including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Colors.  The deal gives Viacom a significant presence in the fast growing regional TV sector in India, where almost 60 per cent of the population of more than 1.2 billion people speak regional dialects as their first language. Collectively, regional TV stations account for the second largest share of viewing in the Indian market, behind only Hindi general entertainment channels.

Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said, ?We?re thrilled to be broadening our presence in one of the largest and fastest growing TV markets in the world, and deepening our already strong partnership with Network18.  This acquisition is an important step in building on our leadership position in India, a key market in Viacom?s international growth strategy.?

Network18 CEO AP Parigi added, ?This acquisition by Viacom International Media Networks further strengthens the partnership with Network18 both in terms of depth and breadth. I am confident India will emerge as a global entertainment powerhouse in the year ahead.?

Viacom International Media Networks president and CEO Bob Bakish said, ?Regional TV networks ? and regional ad markets ? are the next wave of growth in India. Having a strong national and broad regional presence gives us a powerful platform to launch additional brands, and introduce successful franchises and formats across India.?

Viacom18 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats said, ?This acquisition is a big milestone for Viacom & Network 18 and it showcases their combined conviction to build a powerful broadcast offering for the Indian market.  We are delighted by the transaction and the next growth phase for the companies.?

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