October 17, 2018 / 2:56 PM / a month ago

Reliance buys two cable TV service providers to deepen fibre broadband reach

MUMBAI, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Indian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd announced on Wednesday it will acquire controlling stakes in two local cable TV and Internet service providers, expediting the rollout of its new fibre broadband service.

Reliance, controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, said it will acquire a 51.3 percent stake in Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd for 29.40 billion rupees ($399 million).

It will also purchase new shares worth 20.45 billion rupees and buy secondary shares for 2.45 billion rupees for a 66 percent stake in Den Networks Ltd, it said in a statement.

Reliance disrupted India’s telecoms sector when it launched telecoms unit Jio in late 2016 with cut-price mobile data plans and free voice calls.

“With local cable operators now as part of the Jio ecosystem, we look forward to bringing Jio’s advanced JioGigaFiber and Smart Home Solutions to more Indian homes, even quicker,” Ambani said in the statement.

Reliance announced the launch of its fibre broadband service in July, named ‘JioGigaFiber’, and said it would be rolled out in 1,100 Indian cities and potentially connect 50 million homes.

The two transactions will close after customary regulatory and other approvals, said Reliance, which announced a record high quarterly profit on Wednesday.

Reliance has been testing its broadband service in some cities, offering what it says is faster internet connectivity than regular broadband where the fibre reaches only up to the building and not directly into homes.

The conglomerate is also betting on acquiring content to fuel data consumption in a country with more than a billion mobile connections. It has invested in Eros, Indian production house Balaji Telefilms and music streaming app Saavn. ($1 = 73.6200 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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