Actors turn investors: Bachchans make first ever overseas investment with Ziddu.com

Bollywood stars are turning into investors. In 2013, Amitabh Bachchan made a whopping 4600 percent windfall gain with his 10 percent stake in Just Dial. A year later he tried growing AB Corporation, but it hit a wall soon. Now the Bachchan family has made its first overseas investment acquiring a minority stake in Singapore-based Meridian Tech Pte through the Reserve Bank of India's Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS

The Bacchans have invested in Ziddu.com, a cloud based content distribution platform at a valuation of around $71 million. Meridian Tech, founded by Venkata Srinivas Meenavalli, also runs a micro payment platform. Bacchan also holds 3.4 percent equity in Stampede Capital, a BSE-listed company promoted by Meenavalli.

Started in 2007 by Meenavalli Venkat and Palacharla Srinivasu, Ziddu.com is one of the top 5 file sharing sites across the globe. It offers free file hosting as well as secured cloud services across all media. The firm claims to generate 1.2 billion page views with visitors from more than 225 countries. The company clocked revenues of $20 million in calendar year 2014.

According to a report in the Economic Times, shares of Meridian were bought for $252,000 using funds in two accounts — a single account of Amitabh Bachchan and a joint account he shares with son Abhishek. However, the Bachchans had to use funds lying in their offshore accounts to close the deal because the government in India is yet to approve higher forex remittance for high net worth indivuduals who want to acquire shares and properties abroad through RBI's liberalised remittance scheme (LRS).

Amitabh Bachchan. PTI

Amitabh Bachchan. PTI

While the central bank had in February announced that the LRS limit was being raised from $125,000 to $250,000 per person per year, the finance ministry is yet to approve RBI's decision.

In 2013, the RBI seeking to support the battered rupee, announced measures to reduce foreign exchange outflows. The steps included disallowing the use of remittances by resident Indians to buy property overseas as well as lowering the forex remittance limit to to $75,000. But this was later increased to $125,000 in June 2014.

"Initially, the Bachchans were keen to put in as much as $500,000 in Meridian but had to settle for a lower investment because banks refused to handle remittance beyond $125,000 per person with the ministry yet to endorse the enhanced limit,"the ET report said.

Meanwhile the Bacchan family is not the first to venture into business investments. Actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor are slowly building their investment portfolios.

In April 2015, Ranbir Kapoor invested around Rs 5.5 Crore in Tod's Retail India Private Ltd, the Indian arm of Italian luxury shoemaker Tod's, picking up 49% stake from Indian TV and film producer, Ekta Kapoor. In 2014 he, along with his CA Bimal Parekh had bid in the IMG-Reliance Indian Super League football for the Mumbai franchise and had won the bid.

Salman Khan invested an undisclosed amount in online travel company Yatra.com picking up a little less than 5% stake in the company.

Shah Rukh Khan too has invested in ImagiNation Edutainment India Pvt. Ltd, a local franchisee of KidZania, a global chain of indoor theme parks for children. Khan also has a revenue-sharing deal with the Starbucks store he brought to his office building in the Santacruz suburb of Mumbai, according to a report in Mint.

Karisma Kapoor holds 26% of the equity in Babyoye.com, an e-commerce start-up offering pregnancy, infant-care and mother-care products online.


Updated Date: May 20, 2015 15:36 PM

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