NBC Universal and NDTV Ltd have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to form a long-term strategic partnership in India, whereby NBC Universal would acquire an effective 26 per cent share in NDTV Networks, the holding company of NDTV Ltd’s entertainment and lifestyle channels, digital media and other interests, including media products and services.
The channels operated by NDTV Networks include NDTV Imagine, the Hindi GEC that was launched on January 21, 2008, and the recently unveiled lifestyle channel NDTV Good Times.
The agreement also includes an option for NBC Universal to increase its stake to become a 50 per cent partner with NDTV in the JV company through which NBCU is investing, subject to any necessary consents and approvals. The option would be exercisable at fair market value in two years’ time.
The announcement was jointly made on January 22 by Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, NBC Universal, and Dr Prannoy Roy, Chairman and Joint Founder of NDTV Ltd.
Once consummated, the investment by NBC Universal will represent a further milestone in its strategic commitment, announced by Zucker in April 2007, to more than double the size of its international operations in the next three years.
Zucker said, “This will be a significant investment for NBC Universal in an important emerging market and further illustrates our commitment to expand our company internationally, particularly in high-growth areas. The Indian TV market is growing at 16 per cent annually, which provides huge opportunities now and into the future.”
Dr Roy said, “We are delighted to have NBC as our partner. This agreement is a significant step for us. Today, two pioneers in the television history of the world's two largest democracies have come together to cater to a dynamic and demanding set of viewers.”
Peter Smith, President, NBC Universal International, said, “This investment will represent a further major step in our international expansion strategy. NDTV Ltd is a highly respected company, which we will be delighted to have as a partner. We are extremely excited by the quality of the management team that has been assembled at NDTV Networks. The recent launch of the lifestyle channel has been exemplary and we are very confident the launch of NDTV Imagine will prove a great success in the Indian marketplace.”
Vikram Chandra, CEO, NDTV Networks, said, “It has been a very exciting period of growth for NDTV Networks. Over the past six months, we have launched four channels and made significant progress in new generation internet and mobile phone offerings. This partnership with one of the world’s most respected media companies will strengthen our position as a dominant force in Indian media and entertainment.”
With this partnership, NDTV and NBC will align in multiple businesses that are highly complementary, raising the bar of growth opportunities several times.
NBC Universal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80 per cent owned by General Electric and 20 per cent owned by Vivendi.