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James Murdoch & Uday Shankar go the SPAC way to fund new venture

Seven Islands Inc backed by Lupa Systems is looking to raise $345 million.

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KOLKATA: Former top Disney executive Uday Shankar and Lupa Systems founder and CEO James Murdoch are getting on the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) rush. Months after joining forces for a new media and tech venture, the dynamic duo is looking to raise $345 million for the same.

New York-based Seven Islands Inc, backed by Lupa Systems, has floated a blank check to raise the fund in a prospectus published on Tuesday. The company led by co-chairman Murdoch will focus on south and south-east Asia. India will be of particular focus for potential mergers.

“While our efforts to identify a prospective target business will not necessarily be limited to a particular industry, sector or region, we intend to capitalise on our expertise in the media, entertainment, consumer technology, healthcare, and education industries in southeast and south Asia, with a particular focus on India,” the prospectus read.

It further added: “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.”

The one-time scion, Murdoch had exited his family's media empire to found his own holding company Lupa Systems in 2019. Lupa entered India less than two years ago and has built a portfolio of technology investments. The company has offices in New York and Mumbai. He subsequently quit as a director of News Corp in July last year.

Early this year, he announced his new venture along with former chairman & CEO of Star India and president of Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific Uday Shankar, to explore technology and media opportunities in emerging markets.

"As connectivity continues to accelerate and expand across South Asia and the whole region, new opportunities for innovation, across consumer sectors, will multiply...I have every confidence that we can harness technology, enterprise, and tremendous talent to create a great business that is also great for society," Murdoch had said at the time of the announcement.

The duo worked together building Star India into the region's largest media company, prior to its sale as part of the merger of 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company. Shankar is also credited with consolidating Star’s sports broadcasting operations through 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of its joint venture with ESPN.

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