Anil Ambani group to enter live events biz in entertainment, sports

Anil Ambani group to enter live events biz in entertainment, sports

The Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group now wants to play.

R-Adag, as the group is abbreviated, has business interests spanning financial services, power, telecommunication, health care, and movies.

It now wants a slice of the sports event management pie.

The formal announcement will likely be made in a month, when recruitments are over and the entire team is in place, according to the person heading the new business.

“We are entering the live open space in sports and entertainment," said Arjun Rao, director of Big Live, the new initiative. In other words, the company plans to organize sporting events. “We won’t market sports or manage cricketers," Rao added.

He also said it was unlikely Big Live would bid for one of the eight city teams in the proposed Twenty20 Indian Premier League, planned for next April by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

R-Adag is into asset management, mutual funds, life and general insurance through group company Reliance Capital, telecommunications (Reliance Communications Ltd), power generation, transmission and distribution (Reliance Energy Ltd), and entertainment (Reliance Media & Entertainment).

Big Live will be a division under entertainment company Adlabs Films Ltd, which R-Adag acquired in 2005 through Reliance Entertainment; Adlabs specializes in film processing, production and exhibition. Reliance Entertainment, apart from movies, is into radio (Big 92.7 FM), gaming, Internet and mobile portals, emerging digital distribution platforms: IPTV, DTH and mobile TV—and now, sports.

Rao quit as India business head of sports management firm Havas Sports three weeks ago where his focus was on marketing sporting events such as the motor sport event A1GP in the country, and Goodearth Super Series in tennis for children.

“Here, I’ll be looking at organizing tournaments—the focus is on large format live events," he said. “I’ll be thinking, how can I create another Chennai Open, or bring an international football team to play here?" It’s the same with entertainment, he added.

When he quit Havas, on the drawing board was a national-level inter-college basketball tournament. But Rao says he won’t take the process to Big Live; his new job profile doesn’t include talent development with a long-term eye on athlete management.

A beginning has been made, with Big Live requesting an audience with a delegation from the English Premier League club, Arsenal FC, scheduled to visit India later this month.

“But I don’t know if our interests will be the same," Rao said. “They will be looking at developing talent, and the Arsenal brand… we want their team to play matches here."