A consortium of investors, including Bodhi Tree Systems, will invest Rs 13,500 crore in Viacom 18.
Reliance Industries and Viacom TV18 have joined forces with Bodhi Tree System, which is owned by James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Uday Shankar, to develop one of India’s largest TV and digital services, according to a press statement issued on Wednesday.
Bodhi Tree Systems, together with a group of investors, will make a strategic investment in Viacom 18 for Rs 13,500 crore. Colors TV and the OTT platform VOOT are owned and operated by Viacom 18. Notably, Reliance Industries would contribute an extra Rs 1,645 crore to the company.
“Upon closing, Viacom18, in close cooperation with Reliance, Bodhi Tree Systems, and Paramount Global, will shape a vision, strategy, and execution for its businesses, building on the strong existing foundation. Viacom18 is amongst the leading players in the core linear television business with 38 channels across nine languages and a pan India presence. The transaction is expected to close within six months and is subject to closing conditions and requisite approvals,” the company said.
Uday Shankar, former President of Walt Disney and James Murdoch, will utilise the partners’ combined track record of developing iconic enterprises and impacting the media environment in India and throughout the world. According to the press release, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, is an investor in Bodhi Tree Systems.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited, said, “James and Uday’s track record is unmatched. For over two decades, they have played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world. We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market. We are committed to bringing the best media and entertainment services for Indian customers through this partnership.”
Murdoch and Shankar jointly said, “Our ambition is to leverage technology advances, particularly in mobile, to provide meaningful solutions to meet everyday media and entertainment needs at scale. We seek to reshape the entertainment experience across more than 1 billion screens.”
RPPMSL and Viacom18 received legal advice and documentation help from Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas and Khaitan & Co. PWC and BDO offered independent valuations of the Jio Cinema business and Viacom18, respectively, while Citi and HSBC served as financial consultants to TV18 and RPPMSL. Bodhi Tree’s legal counsel was AZB & Partners, while EY provided due diligence services. JSA served as Paramount Global’s legal counsel.