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Bodhi Tree Systems, an investment platform backed by James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Uday Shankar, has received financial backing from Reliance and Paramount Global to launch Viacom18 as a TV and digital streaming giant in India.
Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Shankar, a former CEO of Star India and president of Walt Disney in Asia Pacific, formed Bodhi Tree with financial backing of up to $1.5 billion from the Qatar Investment Authority to invest in media and consumer technology companies in southeast Asia, with a particular focus on India.
With Shankar and Murdoch as major shareholders, Bodhi Tree Systems is set to invest $1.78 billion in Viacom18, which includes a streaming platform with among India’s leading advertising video on demand and subscription video on demand services. Paramount Global also becomes a shareholder and a major program supplier to Viacom18.
The Indian media giant owns and operates a suite of Colors TV channels and the streaming platform VOOT. The Viacom18 content library has around 75,000 hours of network programming, including from Paramount and VOOT originals.
Separately, Reliance Projects & Property Management Services, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, is to invest an additional $216 million in the Viacom18 venture. The investment agreements include a strategic partnership between Reliance, Bodhi Tree Systems and Paramount Global to do business in the media and entertainment sector in India.
The Viacom18 transaction is expected to close in six month and is subject to approvals and closing conditions.
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