The Newsroom

March 20, 2014

Reena Wadhwa, Callista Capital pick 49.9% in studio Abundantia (Source: The Economic Times)

MUMBAI:Five years after purchasing a 49% stake in Gucci's India franchise, television actor Reena Wadhwa is back to her first love — movies. Her company, RW Media, along with Callista Capital, a Singapore-based family private-equity firm, has purchased a 49.9% stake in independent studio Abundantia Entertainment.

Vikram Malhotra, former chief executive of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, had founded Abundantia.

"I have always enjoyed the creative process. I have a passion for luxury, lifestyle and entertainment and will be able to satisfy the aspirations of the upwardly-mobile society," said Wadhwa, wife of ace investment banker Ashok Wadhwa and owner of Ambit Corporate Finance. "Partnering the business of strong brands with films to an aspirational audience is what drew me to Abundantia." Both Wadhwa and Malhotra did not disclose the financial terms.

Abundantia has 11 films under production whose collective cost of production is estimated to be between Rs 250 crore and Rs 300 crore. RW Media, helped by Wadhwa's banker husband, will aid Abundantia in raising funds, ensuring financial discipline and keeping the focus on film production.

"No single fund or finance company can take the total risk, but we are longterm investors," said Ashok Wadhwa. Malhotra will remain the chief executive of Abundantia, but RW Media will have the veto rights on any capital infusion with two board seats and the right to choose the chief financial officer.

The fresh capital will help Abundantia focus on incubating ideas without any budget constraints. Malhotra, who had already locked in film deals with three well known filmmakers — Nikhil Advani, Neeraj Pandey and Shoojit Sircar — also runs a film production venture, Crouching Tiger, with Abundantia and film producer Rajneesh Khanuja holding equal shares.

The Indian media and entertainment industry will double to Rs 1.78 lakh crore by 2018, according to KMPG's estimates. In 2013, the film industry recorded a double-digit expansion, albeit slower than in 2012, with multiple movies scoring big on box-office collections.

"The film industry will continue to perform well, however, in the medium-term; the slowdown in screen additions and slowing the growth of ticket prices will impact growth," according to Jehil Thakkar, KPMG's media and entertainment head.

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