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Reliance and Disney media merger talks to resume in London next week

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and U.S. giant Walt Disney (DIS.N) are discussing a plan to hold next-stage talks about their India media business merger in London next week, two people familiar with the matter said.

Disney and Reliance have held talks to merge their India businesses by forming a joint venture company in which Ambani’s media unit would hold a majority stake, though finer details of business structures and valuations are yet to be discussed.

Next week, senior Disney executives and Reliance officials from its headquarters in Mumbai are likely to fly to London for the proposed meeting, said the two sources, declining to be named as the talks are private.

Reliance and Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A possible merger would create one of India’s biggest entertainment empires, setting it in competition with TV players like Zee Entertainment and Sony and streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The meeting being planned is for agreeing on a “broad roadmap” going ahead and “not for signing” a deal, said the first source.

The second source said the meeting would aim to discuss the contours of the transaction and it was not yet certain if any documents between the two sides would be signed. The person added the final plan for the meeting was still being worked out.

Ambani’s Reliance runs many TV channels and the JioCinema streaming app through its media and entertainment unit Viacom18. Ambani has been locked in a fierce battle with Disney by offering free streaming of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, whose digital rights were once with Disney in India. Reuters

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