afaqs! news bureau

Disney CEO Iger highlights company's profit and risk reduction in India through Reliance merger

As per a media statement, JV by Disney and Reliance aims for 750 million viewers in India and global Indian diaspora.

Bob Iger, CEO, Walt Disney, believes that the joint venture with Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries will boost profits and minimise risks in the Indian market. The merger will offer Disney a substantial stake in a larger media entity while ensuring continued presence in India.

"We wanted to stay in India. We made a big investment in India when we purchased the assets of 21st Century Fox. We're one of the biggest media in India. But even though it's the most populous country in the world, and we felt we want to be there because of that, we also know that there are challenges in that market," Iger said while speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on March 5, as mentioned in The Economic Times report.

He further added, "And we had an opportunity to align with Reliance, which is the company that has done very well there and one that we respect. And in doing so, we end up owning part of a bigger media company. And we believe that it should not only benefit us in terms of the bottom line but also derisk us there."

On February 28, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Viacom18, and Walt Disney formalised a joint venture through definitive agreements, merging Viacom18's media operations into Star India. The ownership structure of the venture will be divided among RIL (16.34%), Viacom18 (46.82%), and Disney (36.84%), with RIL exercising control over the joint venture.

Iger also referred to the merger deal as the best of both worlds. He highlighted the partnership with RIL, India's largest telecom company with substantial media assets, as a key factor. "So, it's kind of the best of both worlds. We stay in the market at a significant level. We have a very good partner in Reliance, and we get to have a chance of growing a business and lowering the risk of doing so," he noted.

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