The Walt Disney Co., Reliance Industries, and Viacom18 Feb. 28 announced the formation of joint venture that sees Disney relinquish majority ownership of its Indian TV and streaming video businesses, which includes the Star service, for $8.5 billion. The joint venture will combine the Reliance-owned Viacom18 and Star India to form the Star India Private Limited.
In addition, Reliance, which will control the joint venture with a 63.16% ownership stake, will invest $1.4 billion in it at closing. Disney will own 36.84% of the joint venture.
Disney will contribute certain media assets, including movies and productions in India, licensing more than 30,000 Disney content assets.
The entity will combine TV and digital streaming platforms, including Colors, StarPlus, StarGold, Star Sports and Sports18, and streaming video platforms JioCinema and Hotstar. The joint venture will cater to 750 million Indians (more than twice the U.S. population) in India and living around the world.
Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani, will be chairperson of the joint venture, with Uday Shankar as vice chairperson.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said the deal provides numerous opportunities in the world’s most populous market.
“Reliance has a deep understanding of the Indian market and consumer,
and together we will create one of the country’s leading media companies, allowing us to better serve consumers with a broad portfolio of digital services and entertainment and sports content,” Iger said in a statement.
The transaction is subject to regulatory, shareholder and other customary approvals and is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2024 or the first quarter of 2025.