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Ambani’s Reliance merges media & distribution biz under Network18

The merger creates a media giant with a top line of Rs 8,000 crore.

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MUMBAI: When you are Mukesh Ambani, you think size,  you think scale. Even as speculation is running rife whether a deal with Sony Pictures is on, the chairman & managing director of Reliance Industries yesterday announced that the megacorp is consolidating its media and distribution entities under one company Network18 Media & Investments. Under the scheme of arrangement, TV18 Broadcast , Hathway Cable and  Datacom and Den Networks  will merge into Network18 Media.

 The appointed date for the merger shall be 1 February, the company said in a statement. It also added that the broadcasting business will be housed in Network18 and the cable and ISP businesses in two separate wholly owned subsidiaries of Network18.

In one of the the biggest takeovers of the Indian media industry, Ambani had announced in 2014 that it would spend big to take complete control of Network18. The acquisition kickstarted the billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s investment in the media and entertainment industry which ballooned over the years .

After the consolidation, Network18 will be an integrated media and distribution company with a revenue of Rs 8,000 crore and net-debt free at a consolidated level. The company also said that the scheme shall also simplify the corporate structure of the group by reducing the number of listed entities.

According to the share exchange ratio approved by the board, shareholders will get 92 shares of Network18 for every 100 shares of TV18; 78 shares of Network18 for every 100 shares of Hathway and 191 shares of Network18 for every 100 shares of Den. Reliance Industries’ holding in Network18 will reduce from 75 per cent to 64 per cent upon the scheme’s implementation.

“The aggregation of a content powerhouse across news and entertainment (both linear and digital) and the country’s largest cable distribution network under the same umbrella shall boost efficiency and exploit synergies, creating value for all stakeholders,” the company stated.

“The media industry is accelerating towards being a B2C play, led both by market factors and through regulation. An integrated media play shall further increase the breadth as well as depth of the group’s consumer touchpoints, and allow for retaining a larger share of the consumer’s spend on content,” it added.

Back in 2018, Reliance Industries through its network of subsidiaries acquired major stakes in Den Networks and  Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited after few days of announcement of its fiber-to-the-home service.

The company added that the consolidation of the cable businesses of Den and Hathway in one entity will leverage the combined strength of the 27,000 LCO partners who act as the touchpoints to 15 million households in India; delivering localised, people-friendly and ultra-fast customer services. The combined broadband entity will serve 1 million wired line broadband subscribers across the country.

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