Mukesh Ambani-Led Group Advances Towards Finalizing 51:49 Merger With Disney, Says Report

Reliance and Disney sign a crucial term sheet for India's biggest media merger. The 51:49 deal targets February completion

Last week, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Walt Disney Co took a significant step forward in establishing India's largest media and entertainment venture by signing a non-binding term sheet, as per sources cited by a report.

The Mukesh Ambani-led group is poised to finalize the 51:49 stock-and-cash merger. The completion is anticipated by February, despite RIL's eagerness to conclude the process by the end of January, the timeline is contingent upon securing all necessary regulatory approvals, as per a report by the Economic Times.

Kevin Mayer, rehired by CEO Bob Iger in July, and Manoj Modi, a close associate of Ambani, were present at the meeting. They've been negotiating for months to finalize the term sheet, focusing on managing the company's legacy TV business and the ESPN sports network.

The initiation of an independent valuation exercise, along with the onboarding of legal and tax advisors, will follow last week's signing and confirmatory due diligence. An exclusivity period of 45-60 days, extendable by mutual agreement, is expected.

Despite being the most substantial media merger announced in India to date, the fate of the $10 billion deal between Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Sony Group Corp.'s local unit remains uncertain even after two years.

Expected on the board are two directors each from Reliance and Disney, ensuring equal representation. Uday Shankar's Bodhi Tree, holding a 15.97 per cent stake and the second-largest shareholder in Viacom18 after Reliance, is likely to secure a seat. There is contemplation on having a minimum of two independent directors, but this aspect may undergo changes in the weeks ahead.

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