Reliance Capital on Monday announced that it has sold off its multiplex business to Carnival Group in line with its objective to focus on the core financial services business and reduce debt.
The transaction, which involves sale of the Big Cinemas business, would be the biggest-ever deal in the media sector in the country and would help the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Capital reduce its overall debt by Rs 700 crore. The firm had a net debt of around Rs 24,156 crore as at the end of September 2014.
The transaction involves the sale of over 250 screens, which will make Carnival Cinemas one of the top three multiplex operators. However, the deal excludes the sale of real estate assets at Imax Wadala and other properties owned by Reliance Mediaworks, whcih it plans to sell separately for about Rs 200 crore.
Sam Ghosh, CEO, Reliance Capital, said that the proposed transaction was in furtherance of Reliance Capital’s stated objective of focusing purely on its core financial services businesses, significantly reducing exposure to non-core investments in the media and entertainment sector, and reducing overall debt.
The group had in July 2014 announced the combination of the global film and media services business of Reliance MediaWorks with Prime Focus.
“The transaction will reduce Reliance Capital’s leverage by approximately Rs 700 crore, through a combination of transfer of debt of RMW and infusion of cash proceeds,” added Ghosh.
According to a joint release by the two firms, Reliance Capital will have the option to acquire a pre-IPO minority stake in Carnival Cinemas at an appropriate discount upon the eventual listing of the company.
Reliance MediaWorks — which was listed on bourses till earlier this year — was voluntarily delisted with Reliance Capital and Reliance Land coming out with an exit offer to buy 26.70% of paid-up equity capital from public shareholders in March 2014.
On Monday, Reliance Capital shares closed at Rs 520,85, down 0.86%, on the BSE.