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Dhall Law Chambers represented News Corp in obtaining merger control clearance from the Competition Commission of India in relation to the proposed acquisition wherein News Corp would acquire ESPN’s 50 per cent equity interest in ESPN STAR Sports (ESS).
News Corp had announced its plans to buy out the remaining 50 per cent stake in ESS in June, 2012.
The proposed acquisition would result in a change in the ownership of ESS India Subsidiaries, with News Corp becoming the eventual owners upon completion of the transaction.
Dhall Law Chambers headed by Vinod Dhall, former chairman, CCI along with Senior Associate P.Ram Kumar acted for STARTV-ATC, an indirectly wholly owned subsidiary of News Corp on their pre-merger filing with the CCI.
The CCI in its 5-page Order said, “After considering the presence of other sports channels in India, such as DD Sports, TEN Action Plus, Ten Sports, Ten Cricket, Ten Golf, Sony Six, Neo Sports Plus, Neo Prime etc, the proposed combination is not likely to give rise to any adverse competition concern in India”.
“The CCI observed that though the proposed combination results in transfer of joint control to sole control of News Corp over ESS, it would not result in elimination of any competitor from the market as News Corp and ESPN, the joint venture partners are not competing with each other in the market for broadcasting of sports channels in India”, said Dhall.
Further the CCI opined that, post-combination, ESPN can again consider an entry into the Indian market, after completion of the non-compete period specified in the agreements.
In the light of the above, the CCI held, “The Commission is of the opinion that the proposed combination is not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India and therefore, the Commission hereby approves the proposed combination”.
Hogan Lovells is acting as lead International counsel advising NewsCorp with a team led jointly by Partners Stephen Kay (Los Angeles) and Alex Johnson (New York), along with Associates Robert Efthimos and Lorig Kalaydjian (Los Angeles).
AZB & Partners is acting as Indian legal counsel to News Corp with a team led by Shuva Mandal.