If the reports doing the rounds are to be believed then very soon Reliance’s DTH service BIG TV will have a new partner attached with it. The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group is planning to sell up to 49 % of its shares in its DTH platform Reliance BIG Tv. The Deal could raise as much as Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,5000 crore for Reliance ADAG. The Group is open to selling the stake to one or more investors, domestic or foreign, soon after the imminent hike in foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in DTH to 74%. The transaction, if it goes through, will be the biggest deal yet in India’s six-player DTH market.
The likely buyers for the deal are said to be a few overseas buyers as well as a few Indian corporations. If this deal goes through then this might be the biggest deal in the history of The 6 player DTH market. The 6 DTH operators are Airtel Digital TV, Reliance BIG TV, Sun Direct, Tata Sky, Videocon D2H and Dish TV. It is beiong said that Comcast from US has held talks with relaince BIG tv in Mumbai.
ADAG could even sell a higher percentage in Relaince BIG tv DTH if it gets a better deal. This is possible since the DTh operators can sell up to 75 % of their stakes to a foreign company. As of now, there is no FDI in Reliance Big TV valued at R5,000-crore, which is directly owned by the promoters and group firms. Reliance Big TV DTH has around 4 million gross subscribers and is looking for funds to more than double its subscriber base in next 12-18 months and turn profitable.
Reliance Big TV is the only company among India’s DTH operators which does not have aforeign stake. Tata Sky has STAR Group and Singapore-based PE firm Temasek as foreign investors. Sun Direct has partnered Malaysia’s Astro. Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV too have overseas partners.
In order to attract strategic investors, Reliance ADAG is leveraging its strength in the media and entertainment space housed under the umbrella of Reliance Entertainment (formerly known as Reliance Big Entertainment), a wholly-owned subsidiary of ADAG.
ADAG is no stranger to forging overseas alliances in media and entertainment. It has roped in US-based CBS as a partner for its broadcast business and has formed a joint venture with Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group to launch English-language channels in India, to be followed by local language outlets. RBNL through its equal JV partner with CBS Inc has launched channels under Big CBS brands while its parent company has licenses for 20 channels expected to be launched through RBNL.
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