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James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, the former CEO of Star India and president of Disney in Asia Pacific, said Thursday that they are partnering to form a new venture that will explore technology and media opportunities in emerging markets.
Murdoch, who no longer holds a role in his family’s media empire, is teaming up with Shankar via Lupa Systems, the New York and Mumbai-based investment firm he established in 2019. Financial terms and details about the partnership were not disclosed. But the venture reunites the duo spent after they spent years working together building Star into a dominant television and streaming player in India and Asia, prior to its sale to Disney as part of the historic 21st Century Fox acquisition. At the time of the Fox-Disney deal in 2018, some analysts referred to Star as the crown jewel of the whole acquisition, worth as much as $17 billion of the $72 billion that Disney was paying for the Murdoch family’s entertainment assets.
Shankar joined Star as CEO in 2007 and didn’t depart Disney until the end of last year, saying he would be pivoting towards independent entrepreneurial pursuits, with backing from international investors. Before his exit from the House of Mouse, he was integral to the rollout of Disney+ Hotstar in several key markets of APAC.
“After two decades of working in India and the region, at Star and more recently at Lupa Systems, it’s great to be entering into a renewed partnership with Uday,” Murdoch said in a statement. He added: “Our collaborations over the years have been immensely rewarding for consumers, our various shareholders, and our colleagues. I’m very pleased to be renewing that partnership now. As connectivity continues to accelerate and expand across South Asia and the whole region, new opportunities for innovation, across consumer sectors, will multiply.”
Added Shankar: “James and I enjoyed a great partnership at Star and I am enormously excited to be in partnership with him again. At Star, we had the great benefit of working with the best and brightest Indian talent, combined with global vision and a desire to disrupt the old order. Digital Technology promises to transform the lives of many millions of people in this part of the world and I have every confidence that we can harness technology, enterprise, and tremendous talent to create a great business that is also great for society.”
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