Ajay Devgn, Mani Ratnam Among Indian Film Heavyweights Supporting Reliance Entertainment CEO Shibasish Sarkar’s Buyout Company (EXCLUSIVE)

Marco B Divaio

A galaxy of Indian entertainment industry heavyweights are reportedly backing Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibasish Sarkar’s special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) targeting the Indian media industry. Variety understands that Sarkar’s New Jersey registered International Media Acquisition Corp. (IMAC), of which he is set as chairman, CEO and leading shareholder, will […]

A galaxy of Indian entertainment industry heavyweights are reportedly backing Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibasish Sarkar’s special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) targeting the Indian media industry.

Variety understands that Sarkar’s New Jersey registered International Media Acquisition Corp. (IMAC), of which he is set as chairman, CEO and leading shareholder, will have investment from actor/producer Ajay Devgn (“Tanhaji”), filmmakers Mani Ratnam (“Bombay”), Rohit Shetty (“Sooryavanshi”), Imtiaz Ali (“Rockstar”), Luv Ranjan (“Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety”), Neeraj Pandey (“M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story”) and actor Vidyut Jammwal (“Commando”).

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According to sources familiar with the matter, other supporters of the venture reportedly include producers and media conglomerates such as Bhushan Kumar of film and music studio T-Series, the Mumbai Movie Studio, Supriya Yarlagadda of Annapurna Studios, B.V.S.N. Prasad’s Sri Venkateswara Cine Chitra, S. Shashikant’s Y Not Studios, Deepa Tracy’s Storiculture), Vishwa Prasad of People Media and Syed Taher Ali’s Taher Cine Tekniq.

The enterprise reportedly also has the support of non-entertainment related entrepreneurs like Ajay Agarwal, who has interests in garment manufacturing and exports.

IMAC aims to raise $200 million-$230 million through an IPO on the NASDAQ exchange within the next 12-18 months. IMAC has refiled their prospectus with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on June 25, after valuation of warrant as mandated by SEC, and are currently reported to be holding road shows. The SPAC is expected to list in the second half of July.

In recent months SPACs, often described as ‘blank check companies’ have become wildly popular vehicles for raising speculative finance and allowing privately-owned companies and start-ups to obtain share listings. Without a track record of their own, and without meaningful business operations, SPACs rely on the financial muscle of their bankers and the reputations of their founders to pull off their first moves.

IMAC’s board of directors also includes: Sanjay Wadhwa, managing partner of AP International Group, one of the biggest Tamil-language IP owners; former co-head of CAA’s global client strategy department David Taghioff, who is now CEO of film funder Library Pictures International; and Greg Silverman, current head of Stampede Ventures, and former president of creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros. Pictures with credits including “The Hangover,” “The Dark Knight,” “Gravity,” “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” and “Suicide Squad.” Others are former Disney India executive Vishwas Joshi, who is set as IMAC’s finance director, noted U.S. businessman Paul Pelosi Jr., “Greenland” executive producer Deepak Nayar and Suresh Ramamurthi, chairman of CBW Bank.

The IMAC prospectus filed with the SEC describes India as a mobile digital first economy, as well as the market that sells the most cinema tickets in the world — pointing to the opportunities IMAC sees in the market. It is expected that IMAC will put together merger and acquisition deals in films, TV and digital content, gaming, over-the-top distribution, online social media, online commerce, events, celebrity and talent management, and app-based applications in areas like sports and leisure.

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