India's Reliance Maintains Silence On Mega Merger Buzz With Disney's Local Unit

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This story was first published on the Benzinga India portal.

India's Reliance Industries has refrained from commenting on media speculations about a potential merger with Walt Disney Co’s (NYSE:DIS) India unit, according to a letter sent to stock exchanges on Jan. 30, 2024.

What Happened: The company responded to a letter from the Indian stock exchanges seeking clarification on the news item titled “Disney's India unit valuation halves in Ambani merger talks.” In its response, Reliance Industries stated that it would not be appropriate to comment on media speculation.

The company added that it is always involved in ongoing evaluations but added nothing further on that. “There is no information which has not been announced to the stock exchanges and which should have been announced by the Company in terms of the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015,” the letter read.

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Why It Matters: The potential merger between Reliance Industries and Disney’s India unit has been a topic of discussion since December 2023, when reports emerged about the advanced discussions between the two companies to merge their media and entertainment operations in India. The proposed merger could result in the formation of the nation's largest media conglomerate.

However, the recent dispute between Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Disney Star over a $1.5-billion sub-licensing deal for International Cricket Council (ICC) rights has prompted Reliance to consider a potential $2-billion valuation downgrade for Disney Star. This comes amidst predictions of financial losses from the media rights agreement.

Moreover, Zee's failure to make a $200 million payment to Disney for cricket rights amid its merger woes with Sony Group Corp. has further complicated the situation.

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