Mukesh Ambani Big TV Market Revamp Before Possible Stake Sale

Reliance Industries Ltd., controlled by Mukesh Ambani, an Indian billionaire, is merging its media and distribution companies spread across multiple entities into Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. to help simplify the asset structure.

The broadcasting company, TV18 Broadcast Ltd., will be housed in Network18, while cable and internet services will be folded under Network18’s two separate wholly-owned entities, Reliance Industries said late Monday in a statement.

Under the recast, the share exchange ratio would be 92 Network18 shares in every 100 TV18 78 Network18 shares in every 100 Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd. 191 Network18 shares in every 100 Den Networks Ltd shares.

The holding of Reliance Industries in Network 18 will be from 75% to around 64% as a result of the recast, the Mumbai-based company said in the statement.

The recast could be the first step by the richest man in Asia towards bringing strategic investors on board in a business that is being reshaped by streaming giants around the world. Bloomberg News reported in November that although the discussions are preliminary, Sony Corp. is conducting due diligence on Network18 as part of talks to acquire a stake.

Fight for Viewer An investor like Sony will bring in foreign content and bolster Network18’s offerings in a market where rivalry heats up for paying viewers. Streaming titans such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. made inroads in India, where more than half a billion smartphone users consume content using data bandwidth made cheaper by Mr. Ambani’s wireless carrier, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

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