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Softbank, Murdoch's eVentures India to be Investing Soon

eVentures India, the company promoted by media baron Rupert Murdoch and PK Mittal of Ispat Group of India to focus on investments in Internet properties, will be operational soon.

The company will have equal equity stake from Ispat Group, US Internet venture capitalist Softbank and News Corp-prompted ePartners. Both Softbank and ePartners have a 50:50 stake in eVentures globally and it is eVentures, which will put in the money in the Indian venture. This means eVenture will own two-thirds of eVenture India.

"Our commitment, interest and belief in the Indian market is very high. We want to help support the amazing entrepreneurial community in India, which is showing an uncommon, touch for the new economy sweeping the world," Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp. said in a written statement.

"PK Mittal has been a good partner of ours and he brings a unique perspective to eVentures India," he added.

When contacted, Ispat group officials declined to reveal Mittal's monetary involvement, or the size of the initial corpus that eVentures India will set up saying the size was 'not very important.' Describing Mittal's foray into the Internet as a logical move, Vivek Seth, group finance director, Ispat said:"Internet and e-commerce are a thing of present and the future. Having seen a big opportunity in this field, we have tied up with the top names in the field."

The fund will identify high profile Indian ventures and assist them to grow into full potential with generous funding from Softbank (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Softbank Corp. of Japan) and ePartners (ePartners is headed by Mark Booth, acclaimed Net Guru). The alliance will offer cutting-edge technologies and business expertise to Internet ventures, aiming to develop ideas into full-blown and successful entities.

At the same time, the new venture will look at bringing to India at least half-a-dozen Internet companies owned by Softbank and Newscorp overseas. "By bringing the key US companies into Indian Internet market, we are laying the infrastructure for its future growth." said Softbank Corp chairman Masayoshi Son in a separate statement.

In a parallel development, Internet incubator Acquavit Inc., which focuses on leading edge start-ups, has merged with eVentures. Promoters of Acquavit Inc have been made partners of eVentures India.

According to Neeraj Bhargave, managing partner of Acquavit, the newly floated company had decided to forego all the money it was trying to raise to fund incubation services between the US-India corridor. The equity investment made by Acquavit in three ventures so far will be honoured by eVentures India, he added.

Incidentally, Murdoch's move comes on the heels of Subhash Chandra's (chairman of Zee television, competitor of Murdoch's Star TV in India) announcement that E-Connect Limited, promoted by Zee and V Jindal, will be investing $100 million over the next three years to develop Net-related business in India.