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India: ZEEL to buy Reliance

Zee Entertainment (ZEEL), backed by Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, is to take control of Reliance Broadcast Network, the largest operator of FM stations in India.

The somewhat complex deal will see ZEEL acquire 100 per cent of the Anil Ambani-owned General Entertainment Broadcasting business, with Chandra’s Zee Media taking back Ambani’s 49 per cent holding in Zee Media Corp. The overall acquisition includes the TV networks BIG Magic comedy channel and BIG Ganga, as well as the BIG FM operation.

ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka said, “We are pleased to announce this acquisition which further adds to our 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 which offers attractive growth potential. I am confident that these two channels will make the ZEE Network channels more enriching for the audience and for the Company

The acquisition is subject to regulatory clearances. Local reports suggest that Reliance will reduce its debt by some $283 million as a result of the deal.

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