Sony in talks to buy stake in Mukesh Ambani's Network18: Bloomberg
21 November 2019
Japan’s Sony Corp is in talks to acquire a stake in Network18 Media & Investments Ltd, the TV channel run by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, according to a Bloomberg report.
The report, citing people familiar with the matter, said Sony, which is aiming to tap the thriving demand for content in India, is currently doing due diligence and is weighing several options for a potential deal.
Reliance Industries, through various subsidiaries, owns a controlling stake in Network18, which has a market value of about Rs3,000 crore ($417.66 million).
Network18’s channel portfolio includes VH1, Nickelodeon, MTV, CNBC TV18, and a range of other local language channels, along with news portals like Firstpost and Moneycontrol.
The media company also has a broad suite of news channels including CNN-News18, CNBC TV18, and other regional language news channels that together held over a 10 per cent share in TV news viewership in India in fiscal 2018-19, according to its annual report.
Network18 shares rose 18%, while shares of TV18 Broadcast Ltd, the broadcast arm of the Network 18 group, were up 4%.
Sony is trying to enter India’s lucrative but crowded TV market, with the aim of tapping the thriving demand for content in the country. TV channels in India are expected to grow more than 50 per cent in the next three years.
Sony is weighing options, including a bid for the company or a merger of Sony's Indian business with Network18's entertainment channels. However, the discussions are still preliminary in nature and a deal may not be arrived at.
The deal, if successful, will help Sony strengthen its local offerings and take on its competitors such as Netflix while giving Ambani access to international content.
The discussions on a possible deal between Sony and Network18 come amid a heating up competition between streaming companies to tap a high viewer base in India's lucrative but crowded digital content market.
Sony operates in India through its Sony Pictures Networks India, which operates a bouquets of channels, including Sony Entertainment Television, with a reach of nearly 700 million viewers in the country.
Last week, Sony Corporation announced the establishment of a research center in India to tap into the country's sizeable pool of talent, with plans for multiple sites. The first location will be opened in Bangalore in 2020 as one of Sony's global R&D centers.
Sony has been carrying out software development with local talent for over twenty years in the country, and this move will augment Sony's competitive edge in the Indian market and strengthen its research and development capabilities in India.
Sony said it is well-positioned to provide excellent career opportunities for researchers possessing relevant information technology-related skills who are currently living in India or are willing to relocate to India.
Sony is also promoting open innovation with local universities through research sponsorships as well as collaborative partnerships with faculty and researchers in India, in order to establish lasting initiatives for motivating and fostering research talent.
Recruitment for well-qualified professionals will be starting in the area of applied artificial intelligence, Sony said, adding that details will be announced through the following company web page at a future date.