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Comcast, Partners Make Offer for India’s Zee Entertainment Stake

Anousha Sakoui, P R Sanjai and Baiju Kalesh

(Bloomberg) -- A consortium that includes U.S. cable giant Comcast Corp., James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Blackstone Group Inc. has made an offer for a stake in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., India’s largest private broadcaster, people familiar with the matter said.

The group plans to snap up a 51% stake, which has a market value of about 190 billion rupees ($2.77 billion), said one of the people, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. The bid is nonbinding, the people said.

A deal could be announced as soon as Wednesday and there could be more investors, another person said. Deliberations are ongoing and might not result in a deal, the people said. Representatives for Comcast and Blackstone declined to comment, while a representative for Zee had no immediate comment.

Zee, the Mumbai-based broadcaster controlled by former rice trader-turned-media mogul Subhash Chandra, is seeking a strategic investor to help pay off debts of its parent group as well as fend off competition from Netflix, Amazon and hundreds of local TV channels vying to tap India’s booming demand for content.

A deal would give Comcast, Lupa and Blackstone control of Zee’s deep library of content and its ZEE5 platform offering Bollywood films and more than 90 television channels in 12 languages on-demand via Internet. Some of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, including AT&T Inc., Vodafone Group Plc and KDDI Corp., have been buying film and television production and cable TV assets to bolster earnings as subscribers level off.

Shares of Zee slipped 0.2% in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon, while the S&P BSE 100 Index was little changed. Comcast was down 0.8% in morning New York trading.

(Updates with Comcast shares in final paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Anousha Sakoui in los angeles at asakoui@bloomberg.net;P R Sanjai in Mumbai at psanjai@bloomberg.net;Baiju Kalesh in Mumbai at bkalesh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, Dave McCombs

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