50% of Codemasters now owned by Reliance Big Entertainment

by: Chuck -
Codemasters has announced that half of the company is now owned by Reliance Big Entertainment  Ltd (which is awkward until you realize their ticker symbol is RBEL).   This investment will be overseen by Zapak the entertainment wing of the company.  You might remember Codemasters as the folks behind the Colin McCrae games, Operation Flashpoint 2, and the DiRT series of games.

It's a move that's interesting as Zapak is the largest gaming company in India with their own MMO and Casual games along with heavy investments in gaming cafe's and game distribution.  With the move Zapak now has access to a significant amount of technology and I'm guessing they'll be leveraging that for new games in their own end.  I'm also interested to see if this impacts the direction of software development for the British developer and if they'll start tailoring some of their games for the Indian market or not.
India’s Reliance Big Entertainment agrees to acquire 50% shareholding in Codemasters



UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – April 6, 2010 – Codemasters, the leading British developer and publisher of world-class video games, has announced that Reliance Big Entertainment Ltd. (RBEL), a part of India’s Reliance ADA group, has agreed to acquire a 50 percent shareholding in the company, alongside existing investor, Balderton Capital, the leading European venture capital firm that first invested in Codemasters in 2005.

RBEL’s gaming division, Zapak Digital Entertainment Ltd. will oversee the Codemasters investment.

Zapak is the largest gaming company in India, with interests in online casual games, publishing massively multiplayer online games (MMOG), India’s largest chain of gaming cafes and physical distribution of gaming software. Zapak also controls Jump Games, an award winning international mobile game development and publishing company with global distribution across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Rohit Sharma, CEO of Zapak, said: “We are excited to partner with Codemasters and believe that its very strong technology, development and distribution presence will complement our global gaming portfolio. Additionally, Zapak’s global strength in mobile gaming will enhance Codemasters’ ability to fully leverage its attractive franchises such as its racing and cricket games.”



Codemasters has major franchises in cricket games (The Ashes (2009), International Cricket (2010), racing games (F1 2009/F1 2010, DiRT 2 and GRID), performance games (Dance Factory) and military simulations (Operation Flashpoint) and annual revenues in excess of US$ 150 Million.



Rod Cousens, chief executive of Codemasters, said: “The opportunities arising from this partnership are truly exciting. This is great news for our development and publishing teams. Reliance and Zapak have immense resources and will help us realize the full potential of our game coding and online excellence across so many platforms, and especially in the world’s fastest growing markets. The future of Codemasters has never looked brighter – it’s a whole new game.”



Tim Bunting, Balderton Partner, said: “We are delighted to welcome Reliance as our partner in Codemasters and gratified by the confidence in Codemasters that Reliance’s initiative represents.”



# ENDS #



Codemasters

Laura Weir

fortyseven communications

laura@fortyseven.com

323-658-1200





About Codemasters

Codemasters, the award winning games developer and publisher, has a 24-year heritage and annual revenues in excess of US$ 150 Million. The company’s dominant brands include DiRT, GRID, Cricket and Operation Flashpoint; the company retains the exclusive worldwide video game rights to FORMULA 1. Codemasters is headquartered in Warwickshire UK, with North American operations based in Universal City, Calif. The company also maintains operations in Japan, Germany, France, Spain, Benelux and Malaysia. Codemasters operates three UK development studios – one at its Warwickshire HQ with further sites at Guildford and Birmingham. An additional art studio is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2009 Codemasters won the coveted Grand Prix Award at the 2009 Develop Industry Excellence Awards, an award bestowed on the company felt by Develop to have contributed the most to the games medium in recent times. Across the group, Codemasters employs over 450 people. In January 2006, Chris Deering, the former President of Sony Europe, Consumer Electronics Division, and Chairman and CEO Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, was appointed non-executive Chairman. Rod Cousens joined the company as CEO in 2005. For more information on Codemasters’ product portfolio, please visit www.codemasters.com



About Reliance Big Entertainment

Reliance BIG Entertainment Ltd. (RBEL) is the flagship media and entertainment arm of India's Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG), (www.relianceada.com) with significant presence in film entertainment (film production, distribution, and exhibition), broadcasting and new media ventures. With commitments of over USD 1 billion in its Filmed Entertainment business RBEL's motion picture brand, Reliance BIG Pictures has built a impressive film production slate in Hindi, English & other Indian languages, which it markets & distributes worldwide.


In Hollywood, Reliance BIG Pictures has partnered with Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider on the formation of DreamWorks Studios and has development deals with Nicolas Cage's Saturn Films, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, Jay Roach's Everyman Pictures, Brett Ratner’s Rat Entertainment, Julia Roberts’ Red Om Films and Brian Gazer and Ron Howards' Imagine Entertainment. Reliance ADA Group (www.relianceada.com) is amongst India's top 3 business houses and has interests in telecommunications, financial services, energy, infrastructure and media & entertainment. As on March 31, 2009, the Group achieved net worth in excess of Rs 78,000 crore (US$ 16 billion), cash flows of Rs 13,000 crore (US$ 3 billion) and net profit of over Rs 8,700 crore (US$ 2 billion).



About Zapak Ltd

Zapak is India’s largest gaming company that addresses the complete value chain for Online Gaming. With currently over 8 million registered gamers, Zapak.com is not only the largest casual gaming sites in the country but amongst the top gaming sites in the world. Zapak owns the largest chain of dedicated gaming cafes in the country – Zapak GamePlex. These are first of its kind, high speed gaming cafes that offer world class gaming content to the Indian user. Presently there are over 100 cafes in more than 40 cities in India. Zapak Games, the Licensing & merchandising arm of Zapak has created one of India’s largest retail distribution network with presence in over 5000 retail outlets across 100 cities all across India.



Zapak is also the biggest publisher of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) in India. It has launched some of the world’s most popular MMOG titles such as “Crazy Kart” (in partnership with Shanda, China’s largest Gaming company worth $ 3 Billion) and “Runescape” (worlds second largest MMO with over 8 million subscribers, in partnership with Jagex Games Studio). Zapak has a division, Jump Games, which is the leading Global publisher and developer of Online and Mobile Entertainment with global distribution across North America, South America, EMEA and APAC on 80 networks across 40 countries. Jump also publishes leading entertainment applications on the ITunes App store, Blackberry App world, Nokia Ovi amongst others and have had top selling applications/games around the world. Our leading games can be accessed through 80 leading networks across 40 countries worldwide like Verizon Wireless, ATT Wireless, Vodafone, Orange.



Zapak works closely with most of the leading global gaming and entertainment players such as EA, Microsoft, Valve, Popcap, Boonty, Playfirst, Disney, Universal Studios, Shanda, Jagex, Cartoon Network, THQ, iPlay, Hands-On Etc. For more information www.zapak.com



About Balderton Capital



Balderton Capital is one of the largest venture capital firms in Europe, committed to finding and helping talented entrepreneurs build great companies. Based in London, it manages $1.9 billion in committed venture capital. Since 2000, Balderton has invested in over 90 companies, principally in numerous European countries but also in the US and Asia.

Balderton's investments span a wide variety of sectors including communications, consumer services, enterprise software and services, e-commerce, mobile, semiconductors, media and financial services.



Balderton invests in innovative businesses and approaches investment using the principles of teamwork and an intense dedication to building companies of lasting value. The investment partners combine international and Silicon Valley operational experience with company-building expertise. Notable investments include Bebo (sold to AOL for $850m), Betfair (the online betting exchange), ScanSafe (sold to Cisco for $183m), LOVEFiLM (the home entertainment subscription service) and MySQL (sold to Sun for $1 billion). In December 2009, Balderton portfolio company Yoox Group floated on the Milan stock exchange with a valuation of EUR260 million. For more information visit www.balderton.com
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