RIL to ‘RISE’ up in sports, entertainment, and fashion

Steve Ballmer, Mukesh Ambani, François Pinault and Dietrich Mateschitz. How are these billionaires linked? These are the top billionaires who form the elite club of the world’s richest sports team owners.

Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries (RIL), which owns the popular Indian Premier League cricket franchise Mumbai Indians through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Indiawin Sports, is in the second spot with a net worth of $71.2 billion, as of January 31, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He trails Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, whose net worth stands at $83.6 billion, as of January 31, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

François Pinault, owner of fashion brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, is third on the list. Pinault owns a football team, the Stade Rennais FC. Red Bull energy drink company co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz comes in at fourth. He owns Formula One teams Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri, and Major League Soccer club, New York Red Bulls.

Ambani has made a fresh attempt to grow big in the sports arena by buying out IMG Reliance Limited (IMG-R), a joint venture company between RIL and IMG, engaged in the business of creation, management, implementation, and commercialisation of sporting, fashion, and entertainment events in India. IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events, and media, operating in more than 30 countries.

On December 24, 2020, RIL informed stock exchanges that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 50% stake held by IMG in IMG-R, for ₹52.08 crore, in an all-cash deal. Post the acquisition, IMG-R has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIL and been rebranded as RISE Worldwide Ltd.

The new entity will continue to handle all that IMG-R was doing in India and abroad. IMG Singapore Pte. Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMG, was holding 50% of IMG-R’s share capital. Formed in 2010, the Mumbai-headquartered IMG-R has been the market leader in sports marketing, licensing, and sponsorship in India. Its clients include Indian Premier League (IPL) teams, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and several top Indian cricketers. IMG-R also owned and operated the Tata Open Maharashtra tennis tournament.

In 2019-20, IMG-R’s turnover had slipped to ₹181.70 crore from ₹195.55 crore in the previous year while net profit slid to ₹16.35 crore from ₹19.25 crore in 2018-19.

As per RIL’s annual report, net assets of IMG-R stood at ₹157 crore as on March 31, 2020. The total amount invested was ₹201.23 crore while its net worth was ₹99.18 crore. It has received ₹7.34 crore in profit in 2019-20.