Published: January 21, 2020 4:52:09 pm
Dish TV India Ltd’s talks to merge with Airtel Digital TV have stalled on differences over the deal’s structure, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Essel Group’s Dish TV has opted to explore a sale of the business for cash instead of an all-stock merger, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. The direct-to-home arm of Bharti Airtel Ltd remained committed to offering shares, contributing to the stalemate, the people said.
Indian tycoon Subhash Chandra and his Essel Group have been selling assets to pare debt at the conglomerate, whose businesses span media to entertainment and education. Last year, the tycoon sold about 16 per cent stake in his flagship Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, India’s largest publicly traded television network. The group was also in talks to sell toll-road projects to an arm of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Bloomberg News reported previously.
While local media reported the merger talks between Dish TV and Airtel Digital several times last year, Dish TV said in December that it wasn’t aware of any transaction.
No final decision has been made, and discussions could still be revived, the people said. Representatives for Bharti Airtel and Dish TV declined to comment.
Shares of Dish TV rose as much as 6.3 per cent in Mumbai on Tuesday, giving the company a market value of 24.5 billion rupees ($344 million). Bharti Airtel climbed as much as 1.2 per cent.
The potential merger of the two satellite television service providers could help Bharti fend off rival and billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd that bought India’s leading cable operators Den Networks Ltd and Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd.
Ambani, Asia’s richest man, is wedging into a business teeming with players ranging from rival mobile carriers to streaming giants such as Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc.