Viacom acquires 50% stake in Indian regional networks
Viacom Inc. (Nasdaq: VIAB, VIA), today announced that it has acquired a 50% interest in Prism TV Private Limited for 9.4BN rupees (approximately $153M USD). Prism TV owns and operates regional entertainment channels in India, including ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Oriya and ETV Gujarati, all of which were recently rebranded under the ‘COLORS’ umbrella.
The transaction was completed today between Nickelodeon Asia Holdings Pte Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc., and Shinano Retail Private Limited, a company effectively 100% owned by Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited. The parties received clearance from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board earlier this month.
With this acquisition, Viacom Inc. will hold 50% of Prism TV and the remaining 50% interest will continue to be owned by the Network18 Group, Viacom’s partner in the Viacom18 joint venture. Viacom18 is the fastest growing entertainment network in India, operating 10 channels including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and COLORS, a leading Hindi general entertainment brand. The deal gives Viacom a significant presence in the fast growing regional TV sector in India, where almost 60% of the population of more than 1.2 billion people speak regional dialects as their first language. Collectively, regional TV stations account for the second largest share of viewing in the Indian market, behind only Hindi general entertainment channels.
Philippe Dauman, President and CEO of Viacom, said: “We’re thrilled to be broadening our presence in one of the largest and fastest growing TV markets in the world, and deepening our already strong partnership with Network18. This acquisition is an important step in building on our leadership position in India, a key market in Viacom’s international growth strategy.”
A P Parigi, Group CEO Network18, said: “This acquisition by Viacom International Media Networks further strengthens the partnership with Network18 both in terms of depth and breadth. I am confident India will emerge as a global entertainment powerhouse in the year ahead.”
Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, said: “Regional TV networks – and regional ad markets – are the next wave of growth in India. Having a strong national and broad regional presence gives us a powerful platform to launch additional brands, and introduce successful franchises and formats across India.”
Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO Viacom18, said: “This acquisition is a big milestone for Viacom & Network 18 and it showcases their combined conviction to build a powerful broadcast offering for the Indian market. We are delighted by the transaction and the next growth phase for the companies.”