The Indian-based Reliance ADA Group would provide Spielberg & Co. $500 million to $600 million in equity, the WSJ is reporting. That's enough cash to break free from Paramount later this year. Even before this news, Reliance has been establishing itself as a Hollywood up-and-comer by providing financing for the likes of Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt. The company also said then it would spend more than $1 billion over the next 18 months building its entertainment empire in India and abroad. As part of the DreamWorks deal, current CEO Stacey Snider is expected to stay on. From the Journal:
The deal amounts to a marriage of some of the biggest names in the Hollywood and Indian business worlds, with Reliance getting a large stake in the new company. DreamWorks, which makes live-action films that have included last year's "Blades of Glory" and "Dreamgirls" in 2006, would likely seek another $500 million or so in debt financing elsewhere to give its new venture enough money to make a slate of about six films a year. The company would then choose a studio to distribute the films, which is still an open question. General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures, where Mr. Spielberg began his career, is thought to be the director's preference to release his future works, but News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox also is thought to be a serious contender.
Rajesh Sawhney, president of Reliance Big Entertainment, is leading the charge into Hollywood. Before joining Reliance, Mr. Sawhney was chief operating officer at Times Internet Ltd., part of the Times Group, one of India's largest media and entertainment companies. Reliance's plunge into Hollywood is part of a broader push among India's corporate titans to take their place on the global corporate stage. The country has now produced global players in software, steel, autos and is building a growing powerhouse in telecommunications. India's rise was at first confined to software and outsourcing. But more recently, Indian firms, spurred by rapid growth in their home market, have expanded abroad aggressively. In some cases, they have scooped up storied Western brands. Earlier this year, for instance, Tata Motors Ltd., part of the Tata group of companies, agreed to buy Britain's Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. for $2.3 billion.