MUMBAI: Forstmann Little & Co has hired investment bank Morgan
Stanley and Evercore Partners (EVR) to find a buyer for sports management
company IMG Worldwide.
Worldwide operates in the areas of sports, fashion and media, creating
and managing events, organisations, celebrities and brands. Among
other things IMG also manages the organisation of the Indian Premier
add that potential buyers include Creative Artists Agency, William
Morris, Lagardere and Guggenheim Partners. Closer home Mukesh Ambani
is said to be interested and the price tag could be in the region
of $2-3 billion. Right now Ambani already has a joint venture in
India for IMG Reliance. Among other things the JV works with the
All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Basketball Federation
of India (BFI). Also Ambani owns the Mumbai Indians IPL franchise.
question is what impact a potential deal could have on the country?
Percept joint MD Shailendra Singh feels that if this deal goes through
it will be a moment of pride for the country. "It will be a
moment of pride for India to have an Indian owning an iconic sports
brand. But I don't think that it will impact the sports business
in India much. The consumer has not changed. It is still about cricket
and Bollywood. You have to also understand that the Ambani family
is now enjoying sports. For Reliance $2 billion is petty cash."
terms of IMG Worldwide among other things representing the interests
of international sportspersons activity in this area will not affect
India. "Ronaldo can be seen in many countries endorsing products.
But do you see him in India doing that? To sell products you still
need Shah Rukh Khan."
also feels that if the deal happens it will be an investment deal
like what Anil Ambani has with Steven Spielberg. "Reliance
will let the IMG management run things. You don't see Anil Ambani
advising Spielberg on the script to shoot," he adds.
MD and promoter Manish Porwal said that he is not surprised at the
development. "When IMG and Reliance announced their JV I always
felt that they would not just let it be like that. They would find
a way to make it grow and take it in different directions. There
could be synergies between IMG and Mumbai Indians. You could also
see IMG organising more events in different sports in India."
terms of international sport stars and celebrities endorsing Indian
products on a regular basis that according to him is still two to
three years away from happening on a regular basis. "You have
seen Michael Schumacher and Maria Sharapova endorsing Indian real
estate companies. But these are one off deals. Right now there is
a mismatch between the cost of an international celebrity and the
fan following that celebrity has in India. Things will change in
the coming two to three years. That is because more Indians will
follow international celebrities. A point will come when companies
feel that it makes sense to use them in India. Right now companies
like Omega use international celebrities in India as a part of their