In what marks Nikesh Arora’s first big move at SoftBank, the Japanese telecom and technology investments giant has invested $250 million to buy an undisclosed stake in Hollywood production house Legendary Entertainment.
The two have also formed a joint venture to exploit Legendary’s intellectual property rights, including in television, digital, licensing and merchandising and other ancillary lines, across various over-the-top (OTT) and mobile platform with a particular focus on the burgeoning China and India markets, as per a company statement.
Arora had quit as Google Inc’s chief business officer and senior vice president in July this year to join SoftBank Corp as vice chairman and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc (SIMI). He is working closely with SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son in its global growth strategy and in addition, as CEO of SIMI, he is directly responsible for overseeing its internet, telecommunications, media and global investment activities.
Commenting on the transaction, Arora said, “Our goal at SIMI is to leverage SoftBank’s international platform and network of internet and media partners to accelerate content creators’ digital strategies and extend their global reach. Legendary is already a content powerhouse and we are very excited to make this investment and help them bring their incredibly successful film franchises and other exciting new media content to an even larger global audience.”
He will be a part of Legendary’s board of directors as part of this investment.
Legendary is an American film production company founded by Thomas Tull in 2000. In 2005, the company concluded an agreement to co-produce and co-finance films with Warner Bros. Legendary Entertainment has film (Legendary Pictures), television and digital (Legendary Television and Digital Media) and comics (Legendary Comics) divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to mainstream audiences.
In aggregate, Legendary Pictures-associated productions have realized gross billings of more than $9 billion worldwide at the box office.
Started in 1981, SoftBank is a telecom and internet company with operations in broadband, fixed-line telecommunications, e-commerce, internet, technology services, finance, media and marketing. Headquartered in Tokyo, SoftBank’s subsidiaries include SoftBank BB, IDC Frontier, GungHo Online Entertainment and SB Creative. In 2012, SoftBank had acquired 70 per cent of US-based telecom company Sprint Nextel Corporation for $20.1 billion. In 2011, SoftBank had invested $200 million in Bangalore-based mobile ad network InMobi.
The Raine Group LLC acted as financial advisor and Morrison & Foerster LLP acted as legal advisor to SoftBank. Martin Willhite, COO & General Counsel represented Legendary and O’Melveny & Myers LLP acted as outside legal advisor.