Bharti Airtel denied reports it was looking to bid for a stake in troubled Zee Entertainment, after sources told Bloomberg that it and rival Reliance Jio were seperately looking at the troubled Indian media company.
Although sources told the publication Airtel has begun due diligence of Zee and is looking to make a formal proposal soon, a representative of the company rejected the news.
Meanwhile Zee’s representative said the company is in “steady dialogue” with potential partners, and Jio did not comment.
If a deal was to be made, it would be in keeping with the international trend of operators investing in video content and cable TV assets to boost earnings, while competing with OTT content providers such as Netflix and Amazon.
“The objectives of the telcos will not be necessarily to own Zee, but have adequate strategic stake so as to play into the distribution opportunity on their high-speed networks,” Alok Shende, analyst at consulting firm Ascentius Insights, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.
Interest in Zee “is reflective of the triple play opportunity that is unfolding in the Indian market,” he added.
Last year, Bharti signed a deal with Zee for exclusive videos for its apps but its digital services don’t match up to Jio, which is still in the lead with its TV, news and movie offerings, plus subscription to music streaming app Saavn.
It was also reported last week that Airtel and Singapore Telecommunications want to make a combined offer to acquire a 60 percent share of Dish TV India.
In February a report stated forthcoming Telecom Regulatory Authority of India figures were expected to show Airtel slip to third-place behind Reliance Jio in terms of subscriber numbers during January, the second slide for the operator in less than 12 months.
Meanwhile Zee has 1.3 billion viewers across 173 countries through 78 channels and is looking for a strategic investor to help with its debts and fend off competition from OTT players.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back