MUMBAI:

The private investment firm RedBird Capital Partners, which holds shares in the parent company of Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox, has acquired a 15 percent stake in the Indian Premier League cricket franchise Rajasthan Royals for an undisclosed amount.

The Royals won the first edition of the popular tournament in 2008, which is played in the shortest Twenty20 format in the sport and is majority-owned by the investment firm Emerging Media of the London venture capitalist Manoj Badale.

Emerging Media and RedBird, founded by former Goldman Sachs partner Gerry Cardinale, announced the acquisition in a joint statement Thursday, but did not disclose financial details of the transaction.

“The IPL is a dynamic league with a global audience and a forward-thinking mindset in terms of fan and player engagement,” Cardinale said in the statement.

A source close to the deal put the franchise’s enterprise value at between $ 250 million and $ 300 million.

“Such an investment testifies to the global importance of the IPL and India as an attractive investment destination,” said Badale.

The eight-member IPL includes celebrity owners, including top names in business and Bollywood, and draws the biggest names in world cricket to a nation dedicated to the sport.

The television and digital rights for the tournament, which runs for about two months in a regular window from April to May, went for Rs 163.48 billion (US $ 2.20 billion) for a five-year period from 2018 to 2022 ) to STAR Sports.

Like most other companies, the finances of the IPL were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic last year when India’s cricket board had to host the event in the United Arab Emirates.

According to financial advisory firm Duff & Phelps, the IPL’s brand value fell 3.6% to $ 6.19 billion last year due to the pandemic.

Rajasthan also recorded a drop in brand value of over 8% to 2.49 billion rupees in 2020.

Emerging Media also said in the statement that it had increased its stake in the franchise from 51% to 65%.

The Redbird deal is the latest example of private equity firms actively viewing sports teams as investment opportunities.

RedBird also recently acquired a minority stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns English soccer team Liverpool and baseball Red Sox, the XFL, and they’re also the majority owner of French soccer team Toulouse.

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Ref: https://www.livemint.com