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Sudhanshu Vats’ exit puts the spotlight back on Sony-Network18 merger

It was in November 2019 that news first started appearing on a possible merger between Sony Corp and Reliance Industries-owned Network18. First carried by Bloomberg, the report had stated that Sony Corp was conducting due diligence on Network18 Media & Investments and considering several potential deal structures. However, there has been no official statement made by all stakeholders concerned. 

Now, with Sudhanshu Vats’ exit as Group CEO and MD of Viacom18, industry is rife with speculations on a possible merger in the offing. According to an industry source, Sony and Network18 have been in talks for around six months. 

Further development is awaited. 

Viacom18 Media houses the entertainment channels of Network18. It is a joint venture between TV18, which holds a 51 per cent stake and US-based Viacom Inc, which as a 49 per cent stake. 

Should the Sony-Network18 deal be finalised, the Japanese company will gain the 51 per cent stake in the venture. It will also get access to over 60 channels across seven languages, film production company Viacom18 Motion Pictures as well as OTT platform VOOT. 

Meanwhile Sony Corp has its subsidiary Sony Pictures Networks India, which has over 20 channels and the OTT platform SonyLIV. Sony will bring its strong presence in sports, which is currently lacking in Network18’s stable.

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