Reliance Media Works to Get $112 Million Investment From Unnamed Equity Fund

Nyay Bhushan

A “leading international private equity fund” will acquire a “substantial” minority stake in the company's film and media services unit.

MUMBAI – Reliance MediaWorks announced Wednesday that it has signed a term sheet with a “leading international private equity fund ” to invest about $112 million (Rupees 6.05 billion) in RMW's film and media services divisions, subject to final approval. RMW is owned by leading conglomerate RelianceADAG which is equal partners with DreamWorks.

According to the terms,  “the potential investor has provided an indicative non-binding proposal to acquire a substantial minority stake” in RMW's film and media services division for the investment.

RMW's businesses include its Burbank-based image processing facility (formerly known as Lowry Digital) and India’s largest Hollywood-benchmarked studios, RMW Studios with a total built-up area of 200,000 square feet which include 8 sound stages spread across a 7 acre area within Mumbai's Film City complex. In addition, RMW has partnered with LA-based Digital Domain Productions to set up visual effects and 3D Stereo Production services studios in Mumbai and London. For this, RMW plans to deploy an additional team of 650 artists dedicated exclusively to projects allied with Digital Domain; in London, Digital Domain will co-locate a visual effects team within RMW's U.K. facility.

As India's largest provider of film production services, RMW's Mumbai-based facilities have worked on visual effects for 110 out of 114 Bollywood films released in 2011.

When contacted by THR, RMW MD Anil Arjun did not confirm the name of the private equity fund stating that both parties “have agreed to exclusivity for the next 90 days” and that the proposed investment is subject to completion of customary detailed due-diligence, definitive documentation, completion of subsidiarization of the film and media services business, and approvals as may be necessary.

The proposed investment will be restricted to RMW's film and services units and not its other divisions, specifically BIG Cinemas (India's largest cinema chain with over 490 screens including some overseas) and television production venture, BIG Synergy which has produced shows such as the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire among others.

As reported earlier, RMW recently hived off BIG Cinemas and its film services unit into separate 100 percent subsidiaries as “a precursor to invite strategic and private equity investors who have expressed a keen interest in investing in specific businesses” according to a company statement at the time.  Unconfirmed media reports here have indicated that the recently launched wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of Mexico-based multiplex chain Cinepolis is in talks to acquire a stake in BIG Cinemas but when asked, Arjun did not offer any comment.