Anil Ambani’s Reliance Broadcast Network (RBN) is in advanced talks with the Punit Goenka-led Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL). The deal is expected to be in the range of Rs 1,800-2,000 crore, sources told this newspaper. The two have been in talks since the start of the year. Things seemed to fall apart on more than one occasion but the deal is in place and should be sealed in the coming weeks, say sources. Others interested in buying the RBN assets were private equity entities Providence and Samaira Capital.
RBN did not respond to e-mails sent by Business Standard. A company spokesperson from ZEEL responded over e-mail, “From time to time, we keep exploring strategic opportunities for entering new businesses or in our existing businesses. However, as a matter of policy we do not comment on media speculation.” Anil Ambani has been selling-off his media and entertainment assets, to focus on the telecom and defence sectors. Last year, the younger Ambani exited cinema exhibition when the Shrikant Bhasi-led Carnival Cinemas bought out the former's Big Cinemas. RBN runs television channels Big Magic and Big Ganga, both Hindi general entertainment channels. While the former is a national Hindi GEC, the latter is targeted towards audiences in the UP, Bihar and Jharkhand belt. It also runs radio station Big FM. The company has EY as merchant banker for the process.
Sources also reveal the radio business might be separated from the other broadcast assets, as the phase-three radio auction policy mandates that companies participating in the auction cannot sell more than 49 per cent stake for a lock-in period of three years. RBN had added 14 stations to its existing network of 45, focusing on cities such as Pune, Nagpur, Lucknow, Patna, Varanasi and Kolhapur in the phase-three radio auctions last year, spending Rs 117 crore. ZEEL entered the radio business with the acquisition of UAE-based Hum 106 FM last month.
Currently, it does not have any investments in radio in India, as foreign direct investment guidelines forbid more than 49 per cent foreign investment in private FM radio, and more than 49 per cent of ZEEL’s shareholding is with foreign investors.
• Anil Ambani has been selling his media and entertainment assets, to focus on telecom and defence sectors
• Last year, he exited cinema exhibition when the Shrikant Bhasi-led Carnival Cinemas bought the former's Big Cinemas
• Reliance Broadcast Network (RBN) runs television channels Big Magic and Big Ganga, both Hindi general entertainment channels
• It also runs radio station Big FM
• RBN had added 14 stations to its existing network of 45, spending Rs 117 crore in the phase-3 auctions last year
Source : business-standard.com