The shares of Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd. have gone up by 5% at ₹81.90 per share against the previous close at ₹78.00 per share, in today’s early trade on NSE.
Lupa India, the investment company set up by Uday Shankar and James Murdoch, is in the final stages of picking up a 39% stake in Viacom 18, which runs television and digital entertainment channels and is entering the sports business, according to a report by Economic Times.
Viacom18 is currently a joint venture in which TV18 controlled by Reliance Industries Ltd, has a 51% stake, and Viacom CBS has a 49% stake. The company runs Color channels, Nickelodeon, India, Comedy Central India, VH1 India, MTV India, History TV 18 besides Viacom 18 Studios (which makes movies and other content), and OTT channel Voot. The news business is run by Network 18 which is a listed company of which TV 18 is a subsidiary. While Reliance’s TV18 will maintain its majority stake of 51%, Shankar-Murdoch will pick up a 39% stake, thereby turning Viacom into a minority player with a 10% share in the company.
Uday Shankar was unavailable for comment. A spokesperson of Reliance Industries said “As a policy, we do not comment on media speculation or rumours, Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis.”
Shankar has a 51% stake in Lupa India, while James Murdoch holds a 49% stake through his family office. The two had earlier got together to raise $345 million through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) vehicle called Seven Island.
Lupa India is expected to invest over ₹12,000 crore along with Reliance in the sports and entertainment business of Viacom18. However, according to sources, the exact amount to be invested in under negotiations.