China’s Xiaomi leads US$25 million investment in Indian entertainment company

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 1:20am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 4:09am

High-flying Chinese technology start-up Xiaomi has made its first investment in an Indian company, leading a US$25-million funding round in Hungama Digital Media Entertainment.

Other participants in that round for Hungama, the country’s largest digital media entertainment company, included existing investors Intel Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Xiaomi said in a statement on Monday.

Xiaomi, the world’s fifth-largest supplier of smartphones, described the investment as part of its strategy to introduce localised internet services to its handset users in India.

“We think of smartphones as a platform for us to deliver internet services, and this includes content,” said Hugo Barra, the vice-president for global operations at Xiaomi.

“As our user base in India grows and as 4G penetration in India continues to pick up, we will start to see more and more consumption of digital media through Xiaomi devices.”

The company entered India in July 2014 and started local production a year later with its contract manufacturer, Hong Kong-listed FIH Mobile.

Beset by slow growth in their home market, many Chinese mobile phone suppliers have ramped up expansion in India as the country’s appetite for advanced, low-cost smartphones continued to develop.

India is the fastest-growing and second-largest smartphone market in the world, according to market research firm Counterpoint Technology.

“We are investing in Hungama not only to start integrating content into our smartphones, but also to grow together with them and deepen our understanding of the content sector in India,” Barra said.

According to Hungama, it has built partnerships with more than 700 content creators, and now has over 8,000 movies in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, Punjabi and six other Indian regional languages on its platform.

More than 65 million monthly active consumers access Hungama for its music, video and movie services.

Neeraj Roy, the founder and chief executive at Hungama said: “Xiaomi has a very engaged community of fans, which we believe will benefit from the fabulous and immense repertoire from Hungama’s content services.”

Roy said the US$25 million investment it has raised will be used “to further strengthen our movie and TV services”,

He added that Hungama will shortly add 1,500 hours of television content in various Indian languages and English.