James Murdoch & Ex-Disney Chief Uday Shankar Bid To Raise $345M Through SPAC

James Murdoch is joining the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) rush in America, seeking to raise $345 million for his new media and tech venture with Uday Shankar, the former president of The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific and chairman, Star & Disney India.

In a prospectus published late Tuesday, the duo’s Seven Island Inc is using the blank-check vehicle to raise cash from investors in an IPO. They aim to build a group that will be focused on the South-East and South Asia markets.

The prospectus said: “While our efforts to identify a prospective target business will not necessarily be limited to a particular industry, sector or region, we intend to capitalize on our expertise in the media, entertainment, consumer technology, healthcare, and education industries in Southeast and South Asia, with a particular focus on India. Our acquisition and value creation strategy is to identify, acquire and, after our initial business combination, fundamentally enhance the value of a company in the public markets.”

As well as Murdoch and Shankar, the Seven Island executive team includes partners at Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, such as general counsel Jeff Palker. National Geographic chairman Gary Knell will serve as a director.

Murdoch, the former 21st Century Fox CEO, and Shankar worked together to grow Star into a dominant force in the Indian TV market before it was inhaled by Disney as part of the Mouse House’s $71.3 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox in 2019.

They first announced their venture in January and, at the time, Murdoch said it will look to tap into an explosion in connectivity in India, where mobile data is cheap, and across South Asia to identify “new opportunities for innovation.” He told the Financial Times: “It’s a great moment to start something with a blank sheet of paper.”

The launch of Seven Island follows Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, quitting the News Corp board last July. “My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions,” he said at the time.

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