Disney Nearing Deal to Sell India Operations to Reliance Industries (Report)

The Star India business was included in the $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019

Disney Store in Times Square, New York City
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Disney is nearing a cash and stock deal to sell its India operations to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, according to Bloomberg.

The outlet, which cited people familiar with the matter, noted that Disney may sell a controlling stake in the Star India business, which it values at around $10 billion. Reliance reportedly values the assets between $7 billion and $8 billion. A deal could be announced as early as next month, though no final decision has been made and Disney could still decide to hold onto the assets. 

Disney acquired the asset in the $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019.  

Representatives for Disney and Reliance did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.

The report comes after the Wall Street Journal reported back in July that Disney was exploring strategic options for the India business, including a possible joint venture or sale.

Through a joint venture known as Viacom18, Reliance is the co-owner of Disney+ Hotstar competitor JioCinema, which outbid the company for the five-year streaming rights to India Premiere League cricket matches last year.

In addition to Reliance, potential suitors have included Indian billionaires Gautam Adani and Sun TV Network owner Kalanithi Maran, as well as the private equity firm Blackstone, according to Bloomberg and Reuters. 

A spokesperson for Blackstone declined to comment, while representatives for Adani and Maran did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment. 

According to an 8-K filing released last week, Star India had $637 million in revenue and an operating loss $444 million for the first nine months of 2023. Since the first quarter of 2023, Disney+ Hotstar subscribers have fallen from 57.5 million to 40.4 million, while its average revenue per user has fallen from 74 cents to 59 cents.

In addition to exploring strategic options for the India business, Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC in July that the company is on the hunt for a strategic partner for ESPN who could help with content or distribution for an eventual fully direct-to-consumer version of the sports network. He also said that Disney’s linear television assets “may not be core” to the company, suggesting he would be open to a potential sale.

Disney, whose stock is down 6.5% year to date and 18.2% in the past year, is set to report quarterly earnings on Nov. 8 after the bell. 

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