BENGALURU, April 14 (Reuters) – Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RELI.NS) Viacom18 will receive an investment of 43.06 billion rupees ($527.84 million) from Bodhi Tree, about 70% less than what was planned by the joint venture between James Murdoch and a former Star India executive.
Viacom18 said in a statement late on Thursday that Reliance was now leading the investment in the media company with a 108.39 billion rupees infusion.
Last year, Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance had said Qatar Investment Authority-backed Bodhi Tree would spend 135 billion rupees out of a planned 151.45 billion rupees investment in Viacom18, also backed by Paramount Global (PARA.O).
The investment amount from Bodhi Tree was reduced due to a broader funding squeeze amid a slowdown in dealmaking, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.
A separate source close to Bodhi Tree told Reuters the investments “are tranched and this is the first”, adding it will invest more funds. The person did not comment on the total planned investment or a timeline.
Global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity shrank to the lowest level in more than a decade in the first quarter of 2023, as rising interest rates, high inflation and fears of a recession soured the appetite for dealmaking.
Reliance, which is expanding in every sector from retail to e-commerce, made a big splash in the Indian streaming space last year, with its acquisition of digital streaming rights for the Indian Premier League T20 cricket tournament from 2023 to 2027.
All IPL matches are currently streamed free of cost for viewers on Viacom18-owned JioCinema. The FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year was also streamed for free.
($1 = 81.5780 Indian rupees)
Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu