Reliance Big Entertainment, which owns Indian gaming firm Zapak, is buying a 50 percent stake in British video game maker Codemasters. Balderton Capital, which had accumulated a large stake in Codemasters between 2005 and 2007, is the other major shareholder; Balderton bought the Codemasters shares it didn’t already own in mid-2007 — but also announced at the time that Goldman Sachs was investing $99 million in the company to help prepare it for the “digital age.” The speculation at the time was that Codemasters would soon file for an IPO.
Codemasters’ titles include popular cricket game The Ashes, as well as Formula One themed-title, F1. In its announcement, Reliance Big Entertainment says Zapak’s “strength in mobile gaming” will help Codemasters “fully leverage” its franchise. Codemasters currently only has one title for mobile devices, according to its website, while Zapak’s Jump Games develops and distributes games across a large number of mobile operators. Zapak’s other holdings include gaming portal Zapak.com and several popular massively multiplayer online games.
Reliance Big Entertainment had said for several years it was looking for gaming-related acquisitions. Terms of this deal were not announced, although the company did say that Codemasters has more than $150 million in annual revenue.
Reliance Big Entertainment — which is controlled by billionaire Anil Dhirubhai Ambani — is probably best known abroad for purchasing a 50 percent stake in Dreamworks SKG last summer. It has also invested in other U.S. movie-production houses, including those of actors George Clooney, Jim Carrey and Brad Pitt.