Uday Shankar, James Murdoch file for $300 million IPO in US

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MUMBAI: Uday Shankar, the former chairman of Star & Disney India and president – Asia Pacific at the Walt Disney Company, has set up a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) with his former employer James Murdoch to explore acquisition opportunities in India, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The SPAC will look at acquiring companies in the media, entertainment, consumer technology, healthcare, and education industries.

The company, Seven Islands Inc, has filed for a $300 million (Rs 2,200 crore) initial public offering with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

As per the preliminary IPO prospectus accessed by ET, New York-based Seven Islands plans to offer 30 million units at $10 each.

Every unit will consist of one share of common stock and one-fourth of a warrant, exercisable at $11.50.

“We intend to identify and acquire a business that could benefit from a sponsor with extensive operational expertise and experience in building and scaling businesses, particularly within the sectors and markets we are targeting,” the company said in its prospectus.

Both Shankar and Murdoch are co-chairmen of the company, which is sponsored by Seven Islands Capital, a subsidiary of Asia Initiatives.

The Singapore incorporated Asia Initiatives is a joint venture between Lupa Systems and Shankar.

Jeff Palker is named president and general counsel, while Nitin Kukreja has joined as president, and Eleni Lionaki has come on board as CFO.

“The Seven Islands team has an impressive track record of identifying and executing acquisitions that are ripe for growth and disruption across various industry sectors and business cycles. We aim to act as a long-term partner and to drive platform value over time,” the company said.

It added that the objective is to provide a target company with an “efficient path to go public” with a “significant degree of ongoing funding certainty” while creating value for shareholders by assisting management with strategy and operations.

Goldman Sachs (Asia), JP Morgan, and PJT Partners are the joint book-runners for the IPO.

In January, Shankar, the 58-year-old journalist-turned-media executive announced partnering with Murdoch’s family office Lupa Systems, after stepping down from Disney.

ET was first to report on October 8th, last year that Shankar was likely to join Murdoch, who set up family office Lupa Systems or start his own venture, backed by Murdoch and other sovereign funds.

SPACs are increasingly becoming attractive listing options. Last month, Reliance Entertainment CEO Shibashis Sarkar had filed for a $230 million IPO for his SPAC, International Media Acquisition Corp.

While SPAC as a concept has existed for decades in the US, in the last two years, it has seen a lot of investments from high-profile investors and celebrities.

Last year, the US saw 248 IPOs by SPACs, which raised $83 billion. However, in the first three months of this year, 281 blank check companies had raised close to $100 billion.

Experts said now institutional investors are also looking at investing in SPACs, which has resulted in so many deals.

A SPAC, or blank check company, is set up by investors (or sponsors), with expertise in a particular industry, with specific acquisition objectives in the sector.

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