| | APRIL 20239IN FOCUSJAMES MURDOCH TO BECOME ONE OF VIACOM18'S BACKERS, INVESTMENT TOTALLING $1.89 BILLIONJames Murdoch to Become One of Viacom18's Backers, Investment Totalling $1.89 BillionViacom18, a joint venture between the conglomerate Reliance Industries and Paramount Global, with financial support from Bodhi Tree Systems, an investment platform founded by James Murdoch and media executive Uday Shankar, has closed a series of deals to boost its business.According to reports, Comcast's NBCUniversal Media has joined the list of financial backers for Murdoch's Bodhi, which also counts the Qatar Investment Authority among its investors. But it also reduced its investment in Viacom18 from the $1.78 billion that was originally planned, which is now estimated to be worth $1.69 billion, to roughly $528 million.Viacom18 will continue to receive $1.89 billion in growth capital. "The partnership will enable Viacom18 to innovate and disrupt the media and entertainment sector, with Uday Shankar and James Murdoch providing strategic and operational guidance to Viacom18, leveraging their track record of building iconic media businesses", said Viacom18. Shankar was chosen to serve on its board."Paramount Global will continue as a shareholder and supply Viacom18 with its premium global content", the company added. The largest conglomerate in India, two of the most well-known media industry veterans, and a preeminent international media and entertainment company are all brought together by this special partnership.The popular IPL cricket tournament, which is being broadcast on JioCinema for free, has already proven to be a success, according to Viacom18, which claimed that the deal "is already paying rich dividends with IPL's first weekend viewership on JioCinema crossing the digital viewership recorded in the entire season last year".According to Viacom18, Paramount Global now owns just fewer than 49 percent of TV18, the television division of Reliance, and close to 51 percent of the company. Bodhi Tree has the remaining 0.11 percent stake. Additionally, Bodhi Tree owns 17.8 percent of the convertible preference shares of Viacom18, leaving Reliance entities in control of 82.2 percent of them.If and when those preference shares get converted into ordinary shares, Reliance would own a 60.4 percent stake, TV18 a 13.5 percent ownership, Bodhi Tree and its backers 13.1 percent and Paramount Global 13 percent.
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