Indian giant Reliance Industries Limited has taken a minority 5% stake in media company Eros International. Eros, which acquires, co-produces and distributes Indian films, is the first Indian media company to ever list on the New York Stock Exchange. Reliance is paying $15 per share, repping an 18% premium on Eros’ last closing price. As part of the deal, Eros’ Group CEO and MD, Jyoti Deshpande, will exit that role to head the Media and Entertainment business at Reliance Industries Limited as President of the Chairman’s Office. Kishore Lulla will resume his position as Group Chairman and CEO of Eros.
Reliance and Eros International Media Limited have also agreed to partner to jointly produce and consolidate Indian content. The parties will invest up to about $150M to produce and acquire Indian films and digital originals across all languages.
India is a fast-growing economy, particularly in the digital space. While some U.S. companies like Disney are scaling back in local-language film production, Eros is one of the most active local players. Recent titles Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bajirao Mastani and Housefull 3 were solid hits. The former stars Bollywood icon Salman Khan and is prepping a China release.
The company has an extensive and growing movie library with over 3,000 films, which include Hindi, Tamil and other regional language titles. It also owns the rapidly growing OTT platform Eros Now.
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance is India’s largest private sector company, with a consolidated turnover of $50.9B and media investments in Viacom and Balaji Telefilms. Deshpande’s role at RIL will be to lead initiatives to build and grow businesses around the content ecosystem such as broadcasting, film, sports, music, digital, gaming and animation. The 17-year Eros vet, will start her role at RIL from April 2018, but will continue to remain as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Eros.
The acquisition of the Eros stake is subject to customary regulatory and other approvals.