Dream11 parent prepares war chest as it pivots M&A strategy

Dream Sports is the umbrella organisation of Dream11, FanCode, DreamX, DreamSetGo and DreamPay (Photo: AFP)
Dream Sports is the umbrella organisation of Dream11, FanCode, DreamX, DreamSetGo and DreamPay (Photo: AFP)

Summary

  • The company has been looking for large acquisitions since it pivoted its strategy over the past two months from minority transactions 'significant minority' or full-control deals.

Sporta Techologies Pvt Ltd, which operates the sports platforms Dream Sports and Dream11, will fund potential acquisitions of $50 million to $100 million through internal accruals and could raise equity as well, cofounder Harsh Jain said in an interview.

The company has been looking for large acquisitions since it pivoted its strategy over the past two months from minority transactions in small sports and gaming startups to “significant minority" or full-control deals.

"We want to focus on our inorganic strategy. That's what our corporate development team is going to be doing. We're going to focus on fewer but larger bets, around $50 million to $100 million, which will help us invest in organic growth in sports and related areas," Jain said.

In October the company appointed Raj Rathi to lead its corporate development team after Dev Bajaj's exit. Bajaj was the head of Dream Capital, a $250 million fund the company incubated to invest in sports-related companies. The fund has now been wound down and absorbed into the parent company Dream Sports, while also prompting a shift in the company’s strategy.

Dream Sports is the umbrella organisation for Dream11, FanCode, DreamX, and DreamSetGo

“What we want to do is we want to make sure that we solve the breadth and depth of sports problems in India," Jain said. “Sports-related health and fitness has a huge overlap with sports—almost every sports fan is also actively or passively into health and wellness and fitness. So that is a big overlap. I would say sports, commerce, sports-gaming and health and fitness are some of the areas we want to keenly look at for investing heavily in the near future," Jain said.

The company, like other online gaming firms, it also fighting a battle on the tax front because of the GST Council’s 28% levy on online gaming firms. Jain said Dream Sports's revenues will suffer a 30-40% hit over the next two years because of this. Despite that, it will still have cash left over for acquisitions, he added.

“We're debt-free company (so we can raise it). We have our equity, and then we have cash – we have three currencies," Jain said on acquisitions would be funded. 

“It depends on the asset. We have we have a fairly strong treasury. While our revenue for the RMG (real money gaming) industry after [the GST hike] is going to be hit by maybe about 30% and EBITDA is going to be hit by 60%, we still have a bit coming in. We don't need debt to fund our current business, so we will still be able to go out and continue investing in new businesses," Jain added. 

“We also have a fantastic cap table that is willing to invest more in our parent if they find the right opportunities," he said.

Dream Sports has moved the courts against retrospective GST collection. “If the courts rule in favour of taxing the industry 2 lakh crore, then the industry shuts down, including us. There is no plan B. Its not like we have tens of thousands crores of cash and it is not like the we will be able to raise capital – as valuation will plummet if this (retrospective GST tax) becomes a reality," Jain said.

The government has said that 28% tax on GST is not retrospective – and that it was always there.  Mint reported on 5 December that several gaming unicorns were looking at acquisitions to diversify revenue streams in light of the GST tax slab.

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