Paramount Global to sell stake in India’s Viacom18 to Reliance for $517 million

Paramount Global to sell stake in India’s Viacom18 to Reliance for $517 million

Paramount Global has reached a binding agreement to sell its 13% stake in Reliance-controlled Indian media firm Viacom18 to Reliance for $517 million, both companies said Wednesday.

The deal will increase Reliance’s stake in Viacom18, which operates dozens of TV channels as well as streaming service JioCinema, to 70.49%, Reliance said in a disclosure (PDF) to a local stock exchange. Law firm JSA Associates said late last month that it was advising the two firms for the deal.

The move follows Disney announcing plans to merge its India business with Viacom18 late last month. The two firms said their merger will create a joint venture that they value at $8.5 billion. Viacom18 also counts Bodhi Tree, an investment firm run by James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, among its backers.

The joint venture stands to capture about 85% of the country’s on-demand streaming service audience and about half of the TV viewers, according to analysts, posing bigger challenges to Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Apple, Sony and Zee.

The merger, which is scheduled to complete by March of 2025, will have exclusive digital and broadcast rights to some of the key sporting events — including the next four years of popular cricket tournament IPL, flagship ICC events, domestic Indian cricket, FIFA World Cup, Premier League, and Wimbledon.

Paramount will continue to license its content to Viacom18, the U.S. entertainment firm disclosed in an SEC filing (PDF). Between Disney India’s Hotstar and Viacom18’s JioCinema, the joint venture will be home to some of the most sought-after content, including catalogs from Warner Bros., HBO, NBCUniversal and Disney.

Paramount began investing in India nearly two decades ago. MTV Networks, a unit of Paramount, founded Viacom18 in 2007. Years later, Paramount Global formed a joint venture with TV18, another media company in which Reliance eventually acquired a controlling stake.


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