Reliance Jio’s next big move could be acquisition of a major cable service provider, as it prepares to begin commercial roll out of its JioGigaFiber service. According to ET, Reliance Industries has commenced talk with Hathway, the largest cable operator in India.
The talks are believed to be in initial stage and both the firms are exploring a deal. “It’s too early to say if the deal will go through or not, but RIL is aggressively pursuing it,” one person familiar with the discussion told ET. The deal, if confirmed, could value Hathway at around Rs 2,500 crore.
Hathway is a multi-system operator and it signs content and carriage deals with broadcasters. The company then offers the services to local cable operators. This is not the first time that Reliance Industries has looked at acquisition in the cable industry. In September last year, it was reported that the company was in advanced talks with DEN Networks for a possible acquisition. The talks between Mukesh Ambani-owned company and Sameer Manchanda-promoted DEN did not fructify. After the deal broke, RIL decided to go solo with the launch of its GigaFiber service.
Now, the company seems to be looking at acquiring a cable operator once again. The reports indicate RIL is changing its strategy after it faced resistance from local cable operators with regards to extending last-mile connectivity. “At any given point of time various business plans are being discussed at Jio. Earlier, the idea was to acquire a big MSO and a few smaller ones. We have plans ready on how to use existing infrastructure of MSOs to give both video and broadband services,” the person said.
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The resistance from local cable operators has forced Reliance Jio to go back to its older strategy of acquiring cable operator. The acquisition of Hathway will give Reliance Jio’s broadband plans a jump start in the Indian market. The deal would result in Jio getting 11 million digital cable TV subscribers, and 8 lakh broadband users. In the past, Reliance Jio has been linked to multiple companies, which have not resulted in final deal.