New Delhi/Mumbai: The uncertainty surrounding the Kochi franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been dismissed by one of its promoters as rumour and that the winning consortium is set to seal the deal with the tournament’s organizers.
The Times of India said in a report on Friday that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns the league, had returned the papers submitted by the franchise and asked it to mention all its partners in the papers while resubmitting them. The report added that Rendezvous Sports, the consortium that won the franchise, had given 25% of its equity to some unknown entities.
“We are not aware of any notification from the BCCI seeking clarifications,” said Vivek Venugopal of Rendezvous. “We are going to sign the agreement at the earliest.”
New players: (from left) Abhijit Sarkar of Sahara India, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla and Rendezvous’ Shailendra Gaikwad at a conference announcing the franchise winners. R.S. Kumar/HT
The signing may take place as early as Saturday, said a person familiar with the process.
Rendezvous Sports World Ltd is a consortium of several businessmen and firms, including Parinee Developers Pvt. Ltd, Anchor Earth, Film Waves and Anand Shah Developers. It is headed by Mumbai-based Shailendra Gaikwad of Rendezvous and Venugopal, a West-Asia based businessman, and had bid $333.33 million (Rs1,533 crore then) for the Kochi franchise of India’s popular Twenty20 cricket league. Minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor had said at the time of the auction that he was supporting the bid because it would mean an IPL team for the state from which he was elected.
Two people familiar with the developments and who did not want to be identified separately said that the issue was resolved late Thursday night after the intervention of several political heavyweights.
“The agreement with the Rendezvous group has not yet been signed because the formalities are still to be completed,” Rajeev Shukla, chairman of BCCI’s media and finance committee, had said earlier.
Keshav P.T., the representative of one of the members of the Rendezvous consortium, dismissed the media report as speculation and said, “We are in the process of submitting all the information and papers that the BCCI has asked for” and that this would “be done by the deadline (set by BCCI)”.
Sahara India Parivar and Rendezvous won the rights to own the ninth and 10th IPL teams. Both were expected to submit a bank guarantee of $5 million within 10 days. Sahara did so and its agreement with BCCI was signed on 31 March. However, according to BCCI officials, Rendezvous’ papers had some gaps and the board returned them. BCCI officials Shukla and secretary of the board N. Srinivasan dismissed the controversy as “procedure”, but a person involved in the bidding process and who did not want to be identified alleged that the developments were orchestrated by IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and were part of an effort to have “Adani Group and Videocon to bid for the team”.
Mint couldn’t independently confirm this allegation.
Modi couldn’t be reached for comment over the phone despite repeated attempts.
Responding to sports columnist Ayaz Memon’s tweet “Stories on Kochi IPL franchise spreading like whirlwind”, Modi tweeted: “All speculations. Delay due to consortium agreement not in line with franchise agreement. That is being done.” And in response to Rajdeep Sardesai’s tweet: “Masala story of the day: Kochi IPL in danger. Market rumour: Gujarat’s Adani Group trying to get in through backdoor”, Modi replied: “No such thing possible”.
Rendezvous’ Venugopal told TV channel CNN IBN earlier that the “news of a transfer of 25% stake” was baseless.
Ahmedabad-based Adani Enterprised Ltd and Mumbai’s Videocon group were also bidders for the two franchises.
The person involved in the bidding process and cited earlier said agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had interceded on Rendezvous’ behalf. A Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Gujarat, who did not want to be identified, confirmed that Modi had interceded to sort out the matter. Mint couldn’t independently confirm this.
Meanwhile, Videocon (part of a consortium that bid for the Pune franchise) and Adani Enterprises that had submitted bids of $319 million and $315 million, respectively, are ready to step in if the deal with Rendezvous falls through.
A spokesperson for Adani reasoned that because BCCI wants to make as much money as it can from IPL, it would obviously contact the next highest bidders if things didn’t work out with Rendezvous. “But we haven’t heard from them yet,” he added.
“We were $13 million short. The stipulated time to sign the contract after submitting the bid is 30 days. If they (Rendezvous) don’t sign, we become number two and get Kochi,” said Venugopal Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Industries Ltd.
However, a member of Dhoot’s consortium wasn’t as sure because it had submitted a bid only for Pune, which was won by Sahara with a bid of $370 million. In which case, Adani would “technically, be next in line for (an) Ahmedabad” team, said Atul Chordia, chairman and CEO of Panchshil Realty.