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James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, the former CEO of Star India and president of Walt Disney in Asia Pacific, have unveiled a new venture to make technology and media investments in southeast Asia.
Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Shankar have formed Bodhi Tree, an investment platform with financial backing from the Qatar Investment Authority. The QIA has committed to invest up to $1.5 billion to invest in media and consumer technology companies in southeast Asia, with a particular focus on India.
Bodhi Tree will leverage technology to invest in media, education and healthcare sectors. Ownership terms for the strategic partnership were not disclosed, but the newly formed venture will be run by Murdoch and Shankar as co-chairs.
“We are very pleased to announce Bodhi Tree. Opportunities abound to scale exciting businesses in India and the broader Southeast Asia region. Our continued focus on investing and building relationships in these regions comes from our deep conviction in the long-term growth of these economies and the incredible power of these consumers, as these sectors are transformed by technology,” Murdoch and Shankar said in a joint statement.
Last year, the duo got into the SPAC arena with Murdoch, as co-chairman of Seven Island Inc., a special purpose acquisition company, sought to raise $345 million from investors in an IPO. Murdoch again partnered with Shankar in the venture as Seven Islands specifically targets businesses in southeast and south Asia.
Murdoch, who no longer holds a role in his family’s media empire, has teamed with Shankar via Lupa Systems, the New York and Mumbai-based investment firm he established in 2019. Lupa Systems has a majority stake in the Tribeca Film Festival, and stakes in the owner of Art Basel, Vice Media, data intelligence firm Morning Consult, comics publisher Artists Writers & Artisans, virtual reality firm The Void and tech platform Betalab.
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