Private equity firm Blackstone has held preliminary discussions with Walt Disney to acquire a stake in the Indian arm of the entertainment firm, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Blackstone is the latest suitor for Disney’s assets in the hyper competitive Indian market, where it has been exploring a sale or a joint venture partner for the digital and TV business.
Blackstone and Disney declined to comment.
Blackstone-backed US media firm Candle Media, founded by former Disney executives, led conversations between the two parties last week, one of the sources said.
Indian newspaper The Economic Times first reported the talks earlier on Wednesday. Disney has also held talks with Indian billionaires Gautam Adani and Sun TV Network owner Kalanithi Maran, Bloomberg News reported last week.
With subscriber exits accelerating, Disney has sought to revive the fortunes of its streaming business in India by offering free cricket on smartphones, betting that the strategy will boost advertising revenue.
It has meanwhile lost streaming rights for some key cricket tournaments to Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s broadcasting unit – including the Indian Premier League and the national cricket team’s bilateral matches.
In July, it was reported that Disney’s India streaming service Disney+ Hotstar was planning to start enforcing a policy of allowing its premium users to login from only four devices, in an effort to limit password sharing in the key market.
Disney’s rival Netflix in May started telling subscribers in more than 100 countries they will need to pay more to share the service with people outside their household.
© Thomson Reuters 2023