Viacom18 to get $2bn investments

MUMBAI: Bodhi Tree Systems, led by James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, a former head of Walt Disney India, will invest Rs 13,500 crore ($1.8 billion) in Viacom18, an entertainment network owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani and Viacom Inc.

Viacom18 owns and operates the suite of Colors TV channels and OTT platform VOOT. Ambani’s Reliance Projects & Property Management Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries (RIL), will also invest Rs 1,645 crore ($216 million) in Viacom18, a statement from RIL Group said. RIL will transfer the JioCinema OTT (over-the-top) app to Viacom18 as part of the transaction.

Bodhi Tree Systems is a newly formed platform between Murdoch, Lupa Systems Founder and CEO and Shankar, and will leverage the partners’ shared track record of building iconic businesses and shaping the media landscape in India and globally, a joint release from the companies said. Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, is an investor in Bodhi Tree Systems.

“We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market,” said Ambani about the partnership. Paramount Global (formerly known as ViacomCBS) will continue as a shareholder of Viacom18 and will continue to supply Viacom18 its premium global content. Paramount Global operates CBS, Showtime Networks, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount+ and Pluto TV.