Amazon India Invests in Movie Theatre Chains to Diversify Its Entertainment Business
By – Ashwathy Nair
- Amazon India is said to be in talks with a number of film and media distribution companies.
- Amazon India is interested in purchasing a stake in some of the movie theatre chains.
- There are presently three to four acquisitions being examined in this area, including some distressed assets.
According to reports, Amazon India is in talks with a number of firms in the film and media distribution space, including Mumbai-based movie theatre chain Inox Leisure Ltd, about potentially buying interests in them in order to expand its entertainment business.
With its over-the-top (OTT) content business not growing as quickly as expected — Amazon India launched its OTT platform Prime Video in 2016 — and movie theatre chains being impacted by lockdowns in the last year and a half, Amazon India is said to be considering buying a stake in some of these businesses. According to a source, Inox is a potential possibility.
“The OTT content business has not expanded as quickly as the firm planned after the initial boom in the first six months of last year. There are presently three to four acquisitions being examined in this area, including some distressed assets. Some of them are in advanced negotiations with Amazon India,” according to a person close to the situation.
“We do not comment on rumours about what we may or may not do in the future,” an Amazon India spokesman stated in response to a particular question regarding the matter.
A request for a response from Inox Leisure was not received. On the BSE, the movie exhibition company’s stock closed at ₹302.90 on Monday (26th July), up 1.87 percent from its previous close.
Inox Leisure, one of the country’s major movie theatre chains with 153 multiplexes and 648 screens, has been affected by pandemic-related lockdowns. The firm reported a net loss of ₹257 crores for the fiscal year ending March 2021, compared to a profit of ₹141 crores in the previous fiscal year (April-March). The western region of the nation has almost 40% of Inox Leisure’s screens, followed by the north, south, and east. Inox Leisure’s promoters owned 43.63 percent of the company as of June 30, while the government-controlled 56.23 percent.
PVR Ltd, the industry’s largest participant, recorded a net loss of ₹665.64 crores in 2020-21, compared to a profit of ₹131.04 crores the previous year. PVR operates 176 theatres with a total of 842 screens around the country.
Inox Leisure’s stock peaked at ₹328.5 on January 28 and traded in the ₹305-335 area until March 18, when it began to fall and hit a low of ₹251 on April 19 — the second spike of Covid-19.
PVR’s stock followed almost the same path during the time, peaking at ₹1,450 on January 28 and then dropping to ₹1,015.25 on April 19. PVR’s stock was trading at ₹1,329.90 on Monday.
Amazon, located in the United States, is said to have invested $1.5 billion in its Indian company in 2019-20, the majority of which was put into the e-commerce industry.
Experts following the industry have speculated that a significant purchase by Amazon in the entertainment area may see the company shift its attention away from e-commerce, where it is battling regulation changes and huge rivals like Walmart-backed Flipkart and Reliance Retail.
Last year, Amazon started talks to buy the struggling AMC theatre company in the United States, but the talks allegedly broke through. “The film exhibition market in India is significantly different from that in the United States since the average income earned by movie theatres in the United States per client is much greater than in India,” said a Gurgaon-based consultant.
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