Reliance Industries and Eros International announced a multifaceted agreement, including an acquisition of minority stake in Eros by the former, as the two companies attempt to navigate the changing telecom and media and entertainment sectors.
As part of the agreement Reliance will buy a 5% stake in Eros, a Nasdaq listed company at a price of $15 per share through a subsidiary; the two companies will invest up to $150 million to produce and acquire Indian films and digital content; and Jyoti Deshpande, CEO and MD of Eros, will move on to head Reliance’s media and entertainment business. Deshpande, no. 36 on the 2017 Fortune India Most Powerful Women, will, however, hold a non-executive role at Eros. The 5% stake would cost Reliance Industries about $39 million.
Eros, established in 1977, has produced major hits in multiple Indian languages, including Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Srimanthudu, and has recently revamped its video streaming service, Eros Now, as younger audience gravitate to the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Star-owned Hotstar. In 2016, Reliance launched its telecom offering, Jio, attracting customers by offering data and voice calls at rock-bottom prices, or even free, thereby shaking up the Indian telecom sector.
The partnership will further expand the content catalogue in Jio’s own media and content apps as the company seeks to differentiate itself from other telecom players such as Airtel and Vodafone with data and content packages. Last year, Reliance bought a stake of 24.9% in Balaji Telefilms, a film and TV production company that also owns a video streaming service called ALT Balaji, and have separate partnerships with producers and studios, including with Siddharth Roy Kapur’s Roy Kapur Films.
To be clear, Airtel and Vodafone too have partnerships with OTT players, including Eros, ALT Balaji and Hotstar.
“We are pleased to join hands with Eros, as it will bring further synergies into our plans, making for a win-win partnership. We are delighted to welcome Ms. Jyoti Deshpande into the Reliance family and believe that she will not only give wings to our plans but also play a pivotal role in transforming the sector,” Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, of Reliance Industries said in a statement.
Eros International announced its quarterly result on Wednesday; it reported $65 million consolidated revenue for the quarter ending December 31, an increase of near 13% from the corresponding period last year. Its profit before tax, however, plummetted to $4.3 million from $15 million in 2016, though the operating profit increased by a little over 100% to $16.5 million.