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Sony completes acquisition of India biz of Ten Sports, international biz to be added in next phase

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) and its affiliates have completed the acquisition of the India business of Ten Sports Network from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and its subsidiaries.

The two-phase acquisition process will see the company acquiring the international business in the second phase. Pakistan is an important piece of the international side of Ten Sports’ business.

“The acquisition of the India part of Ten Sports’ business has been complete. Approvals are needed from different countries to complete the international side of Ten Sports’ business. This includes Pakistan. The approvals are expected in the next few months,” a source said.

With the acquisition complete, Sony will immediately control the India part of Ten Sports’ operations. The integration process will now start.

NP-Singh_CEO_INSIDE01Said SPNI CEO NP Singh, “I am delighted that the teams from SPNI and ZEE have completed this core phase of the transaction in good time. SPNI is now equipped, better than ever, to offer its viewers premium sporting content with a sports portfolio that includes every major sport and many international as well as domestic leagues. We are now stepping into the integration process to facilitate a seamless transition.”

With the first phase of the acquisition complete, SPNI will add five channels—Ten 1, Ten 1 HD, Ten 2, Ten 3 and Ten Golf HD—owned and operated by Taj Television.

Following the completion of this acquisition phase, SPNI’s cluster of nine sports channels will now include Sony SIX, Sony ESPN, Sony Six HD and Sony ESPN HD besides the five Taj Television channels.

Sony and ZEEL said that certain other operations and assets will be included in the final phase of the acquisition, subject to certain closing conditions, which is expected to be completed in the next few months.

These assets include Ten Sports and Ten Cricket, operated by Taj Mauritius across different parts of the world such as Pakistan, the Middle East, Caribbean, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Punit Goenka, MD & CEO, ZEELSaid ZEEL MD Punit Goenka, “Great job done by the teams from SPNI and ZEE in facilitating the closure of this phase of the transaction. I am confident that the Ten Sports Network will reach new levels of consumer engagement under the nurturing guidance of SPN. I wish them the best. I’ll be tuning in regularly.”

In August 2016, Sony had signed an agreement with ZEEL to buy the latter’s sports broadcasting business for $385 million (Rs 2,578 crore).

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had cleared the deal between the two companies on 18 January and noted that the said acquisition by Sony would not have any adverse impact of the deal on the competition in the broadcasting sector.

ZEEL and Sony had incorporated a new company by the name of Aqua Holding Investments on 23 August 2016 for carrying out the proposed transaction.

The proposal before the CCI was the acquisition of 100% shareholding of Taj India, acquisition of the sports broadcasting business from Taj Mauritius and the subsequent merger of Aqua Holding Investments with Sony.

Taj India functions as a distribution and advertisement selling agent in India for the television channels broadcasted by Taj Mauritius.

Taj Mauritius is engaged in broadcast and distribution of television channels across different parts of the world such as Pakistan, Middle East, Caribbean, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, etc. It also syndicates television content to third parties across all media platforms in several countries across the world. Taj Mauritius functions through its agent Taj India in India.

Sports broadcasting in India is set for a new era of Big Two. The exit of ZEEL from sports broadcasting paves the way for Star India and Sony to wrestle for cricket, soccer and other rights.

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