Dish TV, Airtel DTH merger in limbo due to differences over deal structure: Report

MUMBAI: The talks between direct to home (DTH) operators Dish TV India and Airtel Digital TV have stalled due to differences over the deal’s structure, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report quoting anonymous sources stated that Essel Group’s Dish TV has opted to explore a sale of the business for cash instead of an all-stock merger. However, Bharti Telemedia, the DTH arm of Bharti Airtel, is willing to offer shares.

Faced with huge debt, media tycoon Subhash Chandra has been offloading assets to bring down the debt of the Essel Group. The promoters have sold a 26.7% stake in ZEEL for Rs 8567.18 crore. This has reduced the promoter shareholding in the company to less than 5%.

The report further stated that no final decision has been made, and discussions could still be revived. Both Bharti Airtel and Dish TV declined to comment on the matter.

The potential merger between the DTH players is seen as a strategy by Bharti Airtel to fend off competition from rival Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm which has bought majority stakes in cable distribution companies DEN Networks and Hathway Cable & Datacom.

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) Performance Indicator Report (PIR) for the July-September quarter, Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV’s market share stood at 31.23% (21.64 million) and 23.39% (15.93 million) respectively.

The DTH market in India has become a four-player market with the merger of Dish TV and Videocon d2h followed by the closure of Independent TV (formerly Reliance Digital TV). The top four players in terms of market share are Tata Sky, Dish TV, Airtel, and Sun Direct.

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