November 21, 2019 / 5:16 AM / 19 days ago

Japan's Sony in talks to buy stake in India's Network18 Media: Bloomberg

(Reuters) - Japan’s Sony Corp (6758.T) is in talks to buy a stake in India’s Network18 Media & Investments Ltd (NEFI.NS), Bloomberg reported on Thursday, sending shares in billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s TV business 18% higher.

FILE PHOTO: Sony Corp's logo is seen at its news conference in Tokyo, Japan November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Shares of TV18 Broadcast Ltd (TVEB.NS), the broadcast arm of the Network 18 group, jumped 10%.

Network18’s portfolio includes VH1, Nickelodeon, MTV, CNBC TV18 and a range of other local language channels, as well as news portals such as Firstpost and Moneycontrol and news channels CNN-News18 and CNBC TV18.

The media company and its affiliates have a 13.4% share of India’s TV viewership, the company’s latest annual report showed.

Asia’s richest man, Ambani controls Network18 through various subsidiaries of his oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS).

The media house has a market value of 27 billion rupees ($376 million), Refinitiv data showed.

Sony is conducting due diligence and considering several potential deal options, Bloomberg reported bloom.bg/2QFJ6Zl, citing people familiar with the matter.

A Reliance Industries spokesman declined to comment on the Bloomberg report, saying that the company “evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis.”

Sony did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

India’s lucrative but crowded TV market is expected to grow by more than 50% in the next three years, according to Statista.

A stake deal could also allow Ambani to compete with streaming companies such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Amazon Prime.

This year, Ambani launched a super fast internet service in India through Reliance telecoms unit Jio. The telecom operator's GigaFiber broadband services include access to television channels, fixed-line telephone calling and video conferencing with prices starting at around 700 rupees per month. (bit.ly/2s59thh)

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru, Additional Reporting by Promit Mukherjee in Mumbai; editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jason Neely

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