Uday Shankar, the former Chairman and CEO of Star India and the former President of Walt Disney Asia Pacific and Lupa Systems Founder and CEO James Murdoch have announced the formation of the investment platform "Bodhi Tree". The new venture will be financially supported by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
This new venture is designed to invest in media and consumer technology opportunities in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on India.
In a statement, the company said, “Bodhi Tree will leverage technology to provide disruptive solutions that drive transformational outcomes in sectors with deep consumer engagement – including media, education and healthcare – to positively impact millions of consumers across the region. Bodhi Tree will be investing at scale to achieve these outcomes.”
The newly formed venture will be run by Murdoch and Shankar as co-chairs. QIA will be committing up to $ 1.5 billion in Bodhi Tree's vision being pursued by Murdoch and Shankar.
Recently, there were reports suggesting that US-based media conglomerate ViacomCBS Inc was going to sell 39% stake in its joint venture with the media and entertainment arm of Reliance industries to Shankar and Murdoch’s company. ViacomCBS will retain only a 10% stake in the joint venture in which TV18 is the majority owner with 51%.
The infusion of funds will help Viacom18 to invest in the recently launched sports broadcast business. The company is also likely to bid aggressively in the upcoming auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"We are very pleased to announce Bodhi Tree," Murdoch and Shankar said. "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 these consumers, as these sectors are transformed by technology."
QIA CEO Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud said, "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 their growth plans in the future."
Lupa Systems is a private holding company founded in 2019 by James Murdoch, the former CEO of 21st Century Fox, Sky plc, and Star. The company has offices in New York and Mumbai. Lupa focuses on companies within the technology and media industries, impact-driven companies focused on environmental sustainability, and emerging markets, particularly within the Indo-Pacific region. A few other companies in which Lupa has made investments in the past are media outfits like Vice, DailyJunt and EdTech startup DoubtNut.
Qatar Investment Authority ("QIA") is the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar. QIA was founded in 2005 to invest and manage the state reserve funds. QIA invests across a wide range of asset classes and regions as well as in partnership with institutions around the world to build a global and diversified investment portfolio with a long-term perspective that can deliver sustainable returns and contribute to the prosperity of the State of Qatar.