AIM-listed private equity fund Elephant Capital has picked up a 50% stake in Global Cricket Ventures Ltd (GCV) for $10 million. GCV owns the exclusive licenses for digital and mobile rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Elephant has also announced appointment of Pramath Raj Sinha as its chairman, replacing Sir Peter Burt. Sinha was a partner with McKinsey and has been MD and CEO of media conglomerate ABP Group. He is currently founder and managing director of 9.9 Mediaworx Pvt. Ltd.
Mauritius-based GCV has the key digital rights to Champions League Twenty20 until 2017. The investment will be made through Tusk Investments Fund 1, Elephant Capital’s Mauritius subsidiary, the company said in a statement.
Cricket – especially since launch of the shorter, snazzier and more corporatised IPL version – has become a major attraction among investors in India. The deal by Elephant Capital comes after Dar Capital-owned Entertainment and Sports Direct won the theatrical rights for IPL last month for Rs 330 crore. Dar is a Dubai based investment advisory and private equity firm which manages $250 million.
GCV, which also owns the domain name ‘cricket.com’, plans to raise another $5 million which would lead to dilution in Elephant Capital’s shareholding. It also holds the development and running of the official IPL and Champions League websites. GCV is a joint venture between Canada’s Live Current Media and UAE’s NetlinkBlue Holding.
“This investment gives Elephant Capital a stake in an exciting online and broadcast media business that has managed to aggregate a collection of excellent sports rights. We believe that with the continued success of the Twenty20 format, the value of these rights will appreciate significantly,” said Gaurav Burman, a Director at Elephant Capital and scion of the Dabur family. His elder brother Mohit Burman, who is also a director at Elephant Capital, owns a stake in IPL team Kings 11 Punjab.
There have been other PE investments in broadcasting and distribution of cricket content. These include Britain’s 3i, Deutsche Bank, and Oman Funds investment in Nimbus, which runs 24-hour cricket channel Neo Sports. IPL has also attracted big bucks with its nine years broadcasting rights being sold to World Sports Group for $1.6 billion.
Indian corporate biggies like RIL’s Mukesh Ambani and UB Group’s Vijay Mallya also own various IPL teams. Several PE firms had also bid for teams during the auction process but none were successful.
Elephant, which was earlier known as Promethean India, has made five investments since its inception across a range of sectors including leisure (EIH), automotive (Mahindra Forging), mobile payment services (Obopay), education services (NIIT Ltd) and building materials (Nitco). The firm raised £50 million in early 2007 through a public float at the AIM market in London.