James Murdoch, Uday Shankar Invest in Viacom18


Bodhi Tree Systems, the venture founded by James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and STAR India veteran Uday Shankar, is leading a Rs 13,500 crore ($1.8 billion) investment in Viacom18 in a bid to form one of the largest TV and digital streaming companies in India.

Bodhi Tree is leading the fundraising round with a consortium of investors as it looks to expand Viacom18’s capabilities. The platform is a partnership between Murdoch, founder and CEO of Lupa, and Shankar, the former president of The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific and former chairman of Star and Disney India. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is an investor in Bodhi Tree Systems.

“We could not be more pleased to announce our new partnership,” Murdoch and Shankar 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.”

Reliance Projects & Property Management Services will invest an additional Rs 1,645 crore ($216 million) in Viacom18. The deal also sees the popular JioCinema OTT app being transferred to Viacom18. Paramount Global will remain as a shareholder of Viacom18 and will continue to supply content to the company.

Mukesh D Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, noted, “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.”