Zee group forays into media entertainment by acquiring Reliance BIG

Mumbai,Nov24:Zee Group is further strengthening its position in the Indian television, media and entertainment industry by fully acquiring Reliance Group’s television broadcasting business and a 49% stake the firm’s radio business.

The combined value of both the transactions is pegged at Rs 1,900 crore.

 With this deal, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) will gain two operational general entertainment channels BIG Magic and BIG Ganga and four other TV licences.

Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer, Zeel, said the acquisition further adds to the company’s expanding universe of general entertainment channels. “BIG Magic gives us access to comedy genre enhancing our customer offerings. BIG Ganga, a leading Bhojpuri channel, syncs with our strategy of expanding into the regional markets that offer attractive growth potential,” he said, adding that the two channels will make the Zee Network channels more enriching for the audience.

As part of the deal, Zeel will bring into its fold the general entertainment broadcasting business of Reliance Big Broadcasting Pvt Ltd, Big Magic Ltd and Azalia Broadcast Pvt Ltd. This will be done by way of a scheme of demerger and execution of definitive agreements in relation to the proposed acquisition.

Accordingly, the general entertainment TV broadcasting business undertaking along with its assets, liabilities, licences, trademarks, etc, shall get demerged from BIG Magic, Reliance Big Broadcasting and Azalia Broadcast into Zeel through a court-approved scheme.

On the other hand, Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) is acquiring 49% stake in 92.7 BIG FM, the radio broadcasting business of Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL). With 45 operational licences (issued under Phase II and migrated to Phase III) and 14 new licenses (issued under Phase III), RBNL runs the largest network of FM radio channels in India. Broadcasted across 45 cities, 1,200 towns and heard by over 200 million people, the FM channel reaches out to around 43 million listeners per week and engages with a large number of national and local advertisers.

This acquisition, according to Rajiv Singh, COO, ZMCL, is not only complementary to the company’s existing business but will also accelerate its growth in the coming years. “We are currently running successfully a bouquet of 11 news and current affair channels and with the addition of 59 radio licences, we will be reaching out to a wider audience base and will keep them engaged on different media platforms. This acquisition shall bring about the desired business diversity and will help in achieving the sound financial objectives at an accelerated pace.”

To facilitate the deal, RBNL will transfer the 45 operational and 14 new licences into two special purpose vehicles (SPVs) respectively along with the assets and liabilities. ZMCL shall acquire 49% stake in each of the two SPVs. Both ZMCL and RBNL shall also have a call/put option to acquire/sell the balance 51% after the lock-in provisions (three years from the date the channels get operational) on the permission holder of these licenses expire.

The lock-in period for the 45 operational licenses shall expire on 31st March 2018, whilst the lock-in period for the 14 licenses shall expire after the expiry of three years from the day all 14 licenses shall have become operational, which is expected to be around March 2020.

Once completed, the value unlocking in the radio and TV businesses, according to Reliance Capital – a part of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group – will reduce the company’s debt by approximately Rs 1,900 crore ($283 million). “These transactions are part of our strategy to reduce exposure in non-core businesses and work towards further reducing debt under Reliance Capital,” said Sam Ghosh, ED and Group CEO, Reliance Capital