US-based media firm Viacom Inc today acquired 50 per cent stake in Prism TV — an entity of Reliance Industries-owned Network18 Group — which owns and operates regional entertainment channels in India, including ETV Marathi and ETV Gujarati, for Rs 940 crore.
The transaction was done through Viacom’s subsidiary Nickelodeon Asia Holding PTE and Shinano Retail Pvt Ltd, a 100 per cent firm owned by Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited.
“The parties received clearance from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board earlier this month,” Viacom said in a statement.
Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd.
Post acquisition, Viacom Inc will hold 50 per cent of Prism TV and the remaining will continue to be owned by Network18 Group, Viacom’s partner in the Viacom18 joint venture.
Commenting on the development, Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman said: “We are thrilled to be broadening our presence in one of the largest and fastest growing TV markets in the world, and deepening our already strong partnership with Network18.”
This acquisition is an important step in building on Viacom’s leadership position in India, a key market for its international growth strategy, he added.
Network18 Group CEO A P Parigi said: “This acquisition by Viacom International Media Networks further strengthens the partnership with Network18 both in terms of depth and breadth. I am confident India will emerge as a global entertainment powerhouse in the year ahead.”
According to Viacom18 Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats, the acquisition showcased combined conviction of the two partners to build a powerful broadcast offering for the Indian market.
“We are delighted by the transaction and the next growth phase for the companies,” Vats added.
Prism TV owns and operates regional entertainment channels including ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Oriya and ETV Gujarati.
All of them were recently rebranded under ‘COLORS’ umbrella.
In July 2014, RIL had acquired Network 18 Media & Investments and its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast for Rs 4,000 crore.
Viacom and Network18 Group have a joint venture — Viacom18, which operates 10 channels including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and COLORS, a leading Hindi general entertainment brand.
The deal gives Viacom a significant presence in the fast growing regional TV sector in India, where almost 60 per cent of the population of more than 1.2 billion people speak regional dialects as their first language.