Reliance Industries has agreed to acquire the Indian partner of Viacom, Network 18, for 40 billion rupees ($679 million). Reliance would gain access to news and entertainment content for its new mobile phone company. Through Independent Media Trust, Reliance will buy a 78% stake in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd. and 9% of its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd. Reliance’s company head Mukesh Ambani is spending $11 billion on a high-speed 4th generation cellular network in order to build a significant business from India’s 890 million phone users.
Reliance is also going to make an open offer for shares of Network 18 at 41.04 rupees each, which totals as much as 9.44 billion rupees. Reliance will make an open offer for Infomedia Press Ltd. at 3 rupees a share to buy a 26% stake. It will offer 30.18 rupees per share for as much as 26% of TV18, which is valued at as much as 13.47 billion rupees.
Network 18 runs a joint venture with Viacom called Viacom18. It broadcasts TV channels from Comedy Central and TV. It also runs a Hindi-language entertainment channel that is called Colors. This group publishes Forbes magazine’s Indian version. Network 18 is partnered with Comcast to run CNBC-TV18.