Essel Sports to sell 25% to fund ICL, cricket plans
Subhash Chandra’s Essel Sports is looking at raising up to Rs 200 crore by divesting 25 per cent to private equity companies to finance its troubled Indian Cricket League (ICL) and other domestic cricket projects.
Confirming this, Asish Kaul, executive vice-president of Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd and Essel Group spokesperson, said: “Several companies have come forward to associate themselves with Essel Sports. Indian and foreign institutional investors have also shown interest in being equity partners.”
He added that no decision has been taken yet since “the company’s focus has been to get ICL off the ground”.
The move comes at a time when the high-profile ICL is to begin from December 1 in Chandigarh with six teams playing against each other.
ICL has been facing trouble raising team, ground and on-air sponsorships with several companies – Bisleri and Axis Bank among them – pulling out. As a result, ICL hasn’t yet been able to sign any sponsorship deals yet.
The tournament announced by Chandra in April this year has a prize money of $1 million (Rs 4 crore). As part of a wider project to boost domestic cricket, Essel Sports had also planned residential cricket academies nationwide for nurturing young talent. Essel had initially set aside a corpus of Rs 100 crore for the project.
However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was quick to announce its Indian Premier League scheduled in 2008, as a result of which large advertisers stayed away from ICL.
Earlier this month, ICL announced partnerships with four companies — beer brewer SAB Miller as drinks partner, apparel brand Provogue as uniforms partner, Microsoft as its online partner and Thomas Cook as travel partner.
ICL also has a tie-up with Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) to finance the building of cricket infrastructure such as stadia and academies.