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Nita Ambani likely to be chair of merged Reliance-Disney media business, say sources

Nita Ambani's appointment as chair will come just months after she quit the board of Reliance Industries to focus more on charity work.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 17:00 IST

New Delhi: Nita Ambani, wife of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is likely to be appointed chair of the board when Reliance Industries and Walt Disney merge their India media assets, two sources familiar with the plans said.

Reliance, controlled by the Ambani family, and Disney are closing in on signing their India media merger deal which has been in the works for months, and an announcement is likely late Wednesday, the sources said.

The plans could change ahead of an official announcement. Reliance did not respond to a request for comment, while Disney declined to comment.

Nita Ambani's appointment as chair will come just months after she quit the board of Reliance Industries to focus more on charity work. She is currently founder and chair of the Reliance Foundation.

Nita Ambani and her family are often seen with Bollywood stars at parties they organize. She is also the founder of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai which has become a key venue for music and theatre.

Reliance and Disney each have a streaming service as well as 120 television channels between them, and the deal will strengthen Reliance's hold over India's $28 billion media and entertainment market.

Reuters previously reported that Reliance is likely to have a 51-54 per cent stake in the merged entity, a deal that will value Disney's Indian operations at just $3.5 billion, sharply lower than the $15-$16 billion estimated in 2019.

Bodhi Tree, a joint venture between James Murdoch and former top Disney executive, Uday Shankar, is also set to take a stake of around 9 per cent in the new merged entity. Disney will hold around 40 per cent.

Disney's TV and streaming business in India has struggled over the years, with its digital platform facing an exodus of users amid stiff competition with Ambani's platform over cricket streaming.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 17:00 IST)

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