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India braced for DTH merger between Reliance and Sun

Reliance Digital TV and Sun Direct are reportedly set to merge to become India's second largest direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV company.

Reliance Communications, the parent company of Reliance Digital TV, will own 26% of the merged operation – a stake estimated to be worth around INR15 billion. The new entity will also take on around INR15 billion debt from Reliance's DTH business in a deal shortly to be announced, according to Business Standard.

Sun Direct, which will reportedly manage the merged company, is expected to launch an initial public offering in the future. The Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications will at this point quit the joint DTH business, local reports claim.

The two companies have been working together since 2010, when Reliance Communications began sharing Sun Direct's satellite transponder space on Measat 3 following technical issues with Insat 4B.
Due diligence for the merger is said to have been performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The digital pay-TV space is becoming increasingly crowded in India, with six private DTH platforms serving over 55 million subscribers, and the ongoing digitisation of the country's vast cable TV network providing further competition.

Sun Direct has about 8.5 million subscribers, with 80% based in Southern India, while Reliance Digital TV has a DTH subscriber base of 4.1 million.

India's leading DTH provider Dish TV has 15 million subscribers; followed by Tata Sky with 11.5 million customers. Airtel Digital has 8.5 million subscribers, and the sixth private DTH provider Videocon d2h has over six million viewers.

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