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Reliance Jio, Airtel plan to bid for Zee stake; Actis eyes Engie's India solar biz
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Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd, led by billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal, respectively, are planning to bid for a stake in media baron Subhash Chandra’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, a media report said.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported that Bharti Airtel has started due diligence of Zee Entertainment and is likely to make a formal proposal soon. Reliance Jio is also considering a bid, it said, adding that the planned move comes as the two telecom operators are locked in a fierce battle for market share in India.

The Bloomberg report comes a day after The Economic Times reported that a potential deal between Zee and Japan’s Sony Corporation was scrapped over valuation differences and that US telecom conglomerate Comcast and investment firm Atairos were now in talks with the Indian television network.

Chandra had initiated the process to sell a stake in Zee in November as part of efforts to reduce debt.

Meanwhile, private equity firm Bain Capital is looking to refinance the debt it had taken to invest in Axis Bank, The Economic Times reported, citing four people familiar with the matter.

Bain will convert its warrants into shares to hold its investment in Axis Bank for a longer period and reduce funding costs, the report said.

The PE firm had led an equity infusion of $1.8 billion in Axis Bank in November 2017. It had invested $1.05 billion to buy 87.5 million preference shares and 40 million convertible warrants in Axis Bank. Bain holds a 3.4% stake in the bank. This can go up to 4.87% upon conversion of warrants.

In another development, private equity firm Actis is in talks to buy the Indian solar business of French energy company Engie SA, Mint reported, citing a person aware of the matter.

Engie has a solar capacity of 810 megawatt (MW) in India. If the deal goes through, it may rank among the largest deals in the local clean energy segment.

The report comes just days after Actis, through unit Sprng Energy, acquired 194 MW of solar assets from Shapoorji Pallonji group. 

Sprng Energy has a portfolio of 1.65 gigawatt and aims to grow it to 2GW. Engie plans to set up 2GW capacity in India by 2019. It also has a wind power portfolio of 280 MW.

Separately, PE firm TPG Capital has declined a proposal to invest in debt-laden Jet Airways (India) Ltd, The Economic Times reported.

Jet's lenders had sounded out TPG Capital to invest in the loss-making carrier after taking control of the airline and founder Naresh Goyal's resignation as chairman. The lenders hope to find a new buyer for Jet by June-end.

Jet has been struggling to survive, repay its debt and even pay its employees and pilots. It also has grounded a majority of its fleet; the airline was operating 26 planes on Wednesday compared with 124 planes in December.

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