SOROS PICKS UP 3% FOR $100 MILLION IN RELIANCE ENTERTAINMENT

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A fund owned by George Soros has bought 3% stake in Reliance Entertainment, the films-to-mobile gaming company founded and owned by Anil Ambani.

Mr Soros, the maverick billionaire whose run on the pound triggered a currency crisis in Britain in 1992, will buy new shares in Reliance Entertainment for about $100 million. The deal values the company at about $3 billion.
Reliance Entertainment produces and distributes movies, provides gaming services and runs a social networking portal. It also operates a growing home video and music business. Group company Adlabs runs multiplexes and FM radio stations across the country.

The money will be used to expand the company’s presence in these segments and also produce movies that have been signed with directors such as Farhan Akhtar, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri. Reliance is already a leading player in the movie business and recently bought out ND Studios.

Also, Reliance Entertainment hopes to enter the TV broadcasting business later this year with a slew of channels providing news, general and business and entertainment.

Group officials said Soros’ investment is just one part of its fund-raising plans. The company will probably raise more money during the year either through private placement, debt or an initial public offer, they said.

Incidentally, this is not Mr. Soros’ first association with the group. Back in 2006, he and Mr. Ambani held talks about forming a multi-billion dollar telecom fund to invest in telecom companies and related businesses around the world. Mr Ambani was to invest $500 million in the venture. One objective of the fund was to act as the acquisition vehicle if Reliance Communications’ bid to buy Hutchison Whampoa’s stake in Hutch-Essar got through.

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