Two investments done. Many to come!

27 Apr,2012


By Shruti Pushkarna


In many ways, the Taj Lands End hotel has been lucky for Rajesh Kamat. The early days as captain of Endemol India and Colors were spent at the hotel in Mumbai. No surprise then that Mr Kamat located his CA Media office at the hotel when he joined it last year as CEO to oversee the Indian investments for The Chernin Group.


For most in the media fraternity, Mr Kamat’s decision came as shocker since he was cruising as COO of Viacom18 Group and CEO of Colors. He spearheaded the channel to leadership position in a record 9 months – thus breaking the 9-year supremacy of Star Plus in the Indian GEC space. Prior to Viacom18, Mr Kamat was Managing Director of Endemol India, where he set up Endemol’s operations in India. As the news of CA Media’s investments in Endemol India and Only Much Louder had just begun reaching the fraternity on Thursday evening, Mr Kamat took time out to speak with MxMIndia:


It’s interesting to see the span of investments you’ve made? One in an international production company and another in a not-so- known youth and music company? So what kind of investments can one expect from CA Media India in the future?

What we are trying to build is a portfolio of assets and each of these will come in with its own uniqueness. You will see us not only invest in different companies but also build different brands in companies. So the first set of announcements are more on the buying side of it, in the second set you’ll probably hear of a build, we’ll actually support an idea and build out a business.


It’s therefore going to be a diversified media property which has pretty much all kinds of assets under it. Now coming to specifically Only Much Lounder vs. Endemol, Endemol is what I call the content hub and we will go on to make it into a content powerhouse. While it’s a strong television player, we believe there is a fair amount of growth that can be looked in. We can look at inorganic growth in television, we can look at moving from one screen to multiple screens. So, on one hand we have an investment in Endemol which is a traditional content hub, on the other, we are investing in a nascent pocket of music overlapping with youth, I see that as investing in the youth power.


If there is a company which is talking about college festivals, music festivals and managing talent in a Dewarists kind of show and more importantly in a nascent pocket, if you find a promoter who you can bank on, it can’t get better. I think that’s the unique combination we found in a Vijay from OML in the music and youth space and on the other end, Endemol, the conventional traditional content business. So that’s pretty much what you see in our investments today.


It’s a year and 26 days since you set up operations. In hindsight, do you think you could’ve announced the ventures sooner?

No, that’s my biggest learning, having come from a broadcast background, I am used to weekly ratings. In transactions and deals, when you are talking about building relationships, trust in a partner and then investing in a partner, I don’t think things move at that pace, because you have to build the rapport, relationship, then establish the value that you get to the table, then talk about the value that you can unlock in that business proposition and then do the deal. So I think it’s fairly decent in terms of pace. And if you talk to any private equity VC guys, you rarely have two announcements in one go and too within nine months of starting off.


Also read…
CA Media to invest in companies, build brands
That Rajesh Kamat was 1st CEO of Endemol is not a coincidence: Deepak Dhar
We’re looking at strategic inputs from CA Media, Zodius: Vijay Nair

How many proposals did you vet?

I don’t even keep a count (laughs). I would typically say a ratio would be 1 on 10 or 2 on 20… would invest in 1 on 10.


How come Endemol? There are several homegrown production companies too?

If you are talking about a company which has the single largest independent producer globally, if you are talking about a catalog of offering, if you are talking about a creative hub which is scalable, it couldn’t get better than Endemol.


Is it quite a coincidence that you were also the founder-CEO of Endemol India? It obviously means a lot that you have invested in it… you have a great amount of faith in the company

It’s not. What does happen is that if you’ve had an association with them since inception, then you know the roots of the company. I have enjoyed an equation with them in form of having set that company up, and then, as partners at Colors and now as investor in the company… I am enjoying all of them.


So will you have a say in Endemol operations?

In any of our investments, we invest in them because we believe the business model is good and the management is great. So from an operational standpoint we never interfere with what the management is delivering and they are the reason why we are investing. What we get involved is more at the capital, strategy and in terms of an overall direction.  That’s the role we play.


Since a lot rests on key programming that Endemol does, will you possibly look at who the guests in the Bigg Boss house will be?

No, no…I think Deepak is more than happy and excited and so is the Colors team deciding who goes inside into the Bigg Boss house. In fact I watched the show but I am not as animated about the show.


Which are the languages that you see Endemol getting into?

It’s only fair if you put up that question to Deepak.


There are investors/VCs who are hands-off, and there are some who are hands-on… what will you be?

We would like to be strategically involved. In case of an OML, what we do is, we build a plan out with the promoter…if we built a plan out with the promoter, then at every step wherever they need support, we stand by them, that’s our role. So not only do we invest money, we actually invest time and expertise.


Tell us about the other project that you are investing in… Only Much Louder?

It’s a youth activator brand, it’s a company which does college festivals, as I said we are investing in youth power, so they are a company which focuses on youth. They use music as a vehicle and we believe it’s a great company to get into because alternate music and music is growing as a pocket, and if you have a captive youth which in India more than 65 percent is less than 35 years of age, then it can’t get better. And we have a great promoter in Vijay.


How come Only Much Louder and not other higher profile companies?

As I said, it’s a great pocket, we love the promoter and we believe that with him we can scale new heights.


Do you see it reaching the heights of, say, a Wizcraft?

You need to talk to Vijay on that…what I can tell you is, yes we are building the brand. We are making every possible effort to work towards whatever best… there are five verticals they are working on, we would love to work with them on each of the verticals to see whatever maximum potential they reach, why would you want to benchmark on anybody…


What are your targets for CA for the year?

We don’t set out with a mission to buy five or four companies, what we do is, we talk to promoters, we identify good companies and invest in different companies. So I don’t think we set out with a target or a mission to acquire or build x numbers. We’ll identify pockets which are growing, we’ll identify businesses which are great, promoters who are good to invest and who we can trust, and the minute we find one, we’ll invest, so no targets.


MxMIndia is read by a variety of constituents amongst media and marketers. If we were to send a message to people on the kind of projects you are seeking, what can that be?

If we find businesses which are synergistic, we believe we can add value, and then we go ahead and invest in them. If we believe that we can grow the business, then we get into them. However, if it’s even a business which we believe is a good investment but we cannot add value and we are not strategic in the business, we’ll not go after it.


Post a Comment 

2 responses to “Two investments done. Many to come!”

  1. Sai Nagesh says:

    All the best Rajesh. Cheers !

  2. Himanshu says:

    On a lighter note…the recent investments are on the events and television side of things. Will CA media consider backing radio for Phase III auctions, As a medium it has grown YoY for the last five years…are they looking at investing in an internet venture…(not an e-com type) or films…I have a gut feel that we may see some investments from them in Viacom18 Motion Pictures…