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Dhall drafted into Reliance-Network18 buy to win competition clearance with AZB, Khaitan

Boutique competition firm Dhall Law chambers won the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) approval for Reliance Industries (RIL) in its purchase of stake in media entities Network 18 and TV 18 Broadcast, which were advised by AZB & Partners and Khaitan & Co on the transactional aspects of the deal.

Dhall Law Chambers proprietor Vinod Dhall with associates P Ram Kumar and Priyanka Singh acted for RIL and and its media share-purchase vehicle Independent Media Trust (IMT) on their pre-merger filing with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which approved the combination.

Through a preferential access agreement, the merger gives RIL’s yet-to-be-launched broadband internet service Infotel access to all television channels and digital content owned by Network 18.

The CCI examined the market for businesses of television (TV) channel supply and event management in India, and the preferential access agreement Network 18 and Infotel entered into, explained Dhall Law Chambers in a statement.

It noted that RIL-owned TV channels targeted regional audience whereas Network 18 had a national viewership, and that “new TV channels can be started with ease in India with sufficient scope for innovation and competition”.

It also noted that RIL and Network 18’s combined market share in event management was insignificant, and that the event management industry doesn’t feature any significant barriers to the entry of new players, and that consumers of the industry have strong bargaining power.

On the preferential access agreement the CCI observed that it was non-exclusive and did not prevent Network 18 from licensing content to other network operators.

AZB & Partners Mumbai partner Shuva Mandal was acting for Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate RIL, on the share purchase, Legally India reported first in January.

Khaitan & Co Delhi partners Bharat Anand and Haigreve Khaitan were acting for Network 18 on the sale, and counsel Avaantika Kakkar was acting on the competition law aspect.

Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai managing partner Cyril Shroff and capital markets partner Yash Ashar were representing the banks on the rights issue.

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