James Murdoch’s fund slashes funding in Reliance-backed Viacom18

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James Murdoch’s enterprise fund Bodhi Tree slashed its deliberate funding into Viacom18 to $528 million, down 70% from the committed $1.78 billion, the 2 mentioned late Thursday as the worldwide weakening economic system hammers traders’ urge for food.

Viacom18, a three way partnership between Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance and Paramount World, didn’t say why Bodhi Tree slashed its pledged funding. The deliberate funding was initially scheduled to shut by October final yr, in line with an earlier assertion.

Murdoch announced Bodhi Tree together with his long-time collaborator Uday Shankar final yr. Qatar Funding Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, is the biggest investor in Bodhi Tree. Bodhi Tree pledged an funding of $1.78 billion into Viacom18 within the fund’s maiden backing in April final yr.

Reliance mentioned in an announcement that it’s contributing $1.32 billion to Viacom18.

“The partnership will allow Viacom 18 to innovate and disrupt the M&E sector, with Uday Shankar and James Murdoch offering strategic and operational steering to Viacom 18, leveraging their track-record of constructing iconic media companies. Uday Shankar has been appointed to the Board of Viacom18,” Reliance mentioned in an announcement.

As a part of the funding, Viacom18 mentioned final yr that it’s going to supercharge JioCinema, an on-demand video streaming service owned by telecom large Jio Platforms. Reliance and Viacom18 have made the streaming of IPL cricket match free to anybody with an web connection in India in a push to courtroom prospects away from Disney, whose Hotstar app gained over 50 million subscribers on the again of untamed reputation of cricket content material.

Viacom18 – a enterprise between Ambani’s Reliance and Paramount – not too long ago outbid Disney to secure five years of IPL’s streaming rights for the Indian subcontinent area with a sum of $3 billion.

In a joint assertion, Murdoch and Shankar mentioned final yr that they search to “reshape the leisure expertise throughout greater than 1 billion screens.”

The duo earlier ran a fund known as Lupa that invested in numerous Indian startups together with short-video platform and information aggregator DailyHunt and edtech DoubtNut.

Shankar started working with Murdoch when he was overseeing Information Corp’s Asia enterprise within the late-2000. The Indian entrepreneur left Disney in late 2020 after spending two years as its president for the Asia-Pacific area and chairman of its India operations.

He helped the struggling Indian tv community in 2007 into turning into one of many nation’s largest media teams. Alongside Ajit Mohan, who has since moved to the management place for Snap in Asia, the duo helped the agency enter the streaming enterprise with Hotstar, which has since amassed tons of of tens of millions of customers and is a crown jewel in Disney’s streaming play.

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