qatar investment authority: Uday Shankar, James Murdoch’s Lupa to raise $1.5 bn from Qatar sovereign fund


Mumbai: Uday Shankar and James Murdoch’s private investment company, Lupa Systems, have formed a new investment platform, Bodhi Tree, and secured an investment of $1.5 billion from the sovereign fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

The new venture will invest in media and consumer technology opportunities in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on India, said a joint announcement release.

The investment from QIA has come at a time when Shankar, former president of The Walt Disney Asia Pacific and chairman of the Star and Disney India, is in talks with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) to pick up a significant minority stake in RIL-controlled TV’18’s step-down subsidiary, Viacom18.

Murdoch and Shankar will serve as co-chairs of the newly-established venture.

The announcement said that QIA will be committing up to $1.5 billion (approx. 11,200 crore) to Bodhi Tree’s vision being pursued by the duo.

“We are very pleased to announce Bodhi Tree,” Murdoch and Shankar said in the statement. “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 their consumers, as these sectors are transformed by technology.”

Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, CEO, QIA, added, “QIA is proud to play a key role in bringing Bodhi Tree to reality. QIA is investing in the technology and media space, and India is a key market for us. QIA looks forward to backing Bodhi Tree as they drive forward with their growth plans in the future.”

Qatar Sovereign Fund Commits $1.5 bn to Uday Shankar, Murdoch’s New Venture

On January 27, ET reported that the duo were in talks with ViacomCBS and Reliance Industries to pick up around a 40% stake in Viacom18, the entertainment network owned by TV18 and ViacomCBS.

These talks are part of a larger fundraising plan by RIL for Viacom18 — the smallest of the big four broadcasting networks — as it gears up to bid for the upcoming media rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the bilateral series of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Last year, Qatar Investment Authority led a $100 million fundraise for VerSe Innovation, the parent company of DailyHunt, which runs the short video app Josh.

VerSe Innovation has also raised money from Lupa Systems.

QIA was founded in 2005 to invest and manage the state reserve funds and is among the largest and most active sovereign wealth funds globally.


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