Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has acquired yet another cricket franchise. This time, the conglomerate has offered Rs 912.99 crore through its subsidiary Indiawin Sports Private Limited for the Mumbai-based franchise of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL). This makes it the fourth MI-branded franchise in the Reliance stable, after Mumbai Indians (in IPL), MI Cape Town (in South Africa T20 League), and MI Emirates (in UAE International League T20).
Welcoming the women’s cricket team to the MI #OneFamily, RIL Director Nita Ambani, said in a statement, “India’s women cricketers have always made the nation proud in the global sporting arena – be it the World Cup, Asian Cup or the recent Commonwealth Games! This new Women’s League will once again shine a global spotlight on the talent, power, and potential of our girls.”
Reliance Jio Chairman Akash Ambani added, “As we bring the MI experience and best practices into the women’s game, we look forward to seeing our women's team excel and inspire future generations of female athletes.”
Now, Reliance’s interest in cricket is hardly new. Besides operating multiple franchises, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate also owns the rights to several high-profile cricket events, including the IPL and the WPL (which will commence in March 2023). While RIL has paid ~Rs 913 crore for its latest cricket acquisition, it is estimated to have coughed up nearly Rs 93 crore (via its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures) for franchises in the South African and the UAE leagues.
Mumbai Indians also happens to be the most valuable IPL franchise. In 2022, Brand Finance (a global brand valuation agency) valued MI at a whopping $1.3 billion. This makes Mumbai Indians worth more than six MLB teams, 27 NHL teams, and every MLS team, according to Forbes. MI revenues were estimated to be in the range of $33 million.
Speaking of RIL's latest buy, Karan Taurani, SVP at Elara Capital, said, "Owners have paid a premium price for buying the teams. However, the big advantage they have is that most of them already have a men’s team franchise, which means an existing recall in terms of brand."
RIL’s growing interest in the global cricket ecosystem has been acknowledged by international figures in the sport too. UAE T20 League Chairman Khalid Al Zarooni, said in a prior statement, “RIL has the legacy with a proven track record in establishing the most successful team in franchise cricket. Association of a vanguard like RIL with the League demonstrates the confidence in our system and the strength of our infrastructure to deliver world-class events.”
Interestingly, not just cricket, but Ambani is spreading his wings in other sports too. Last year, Reliance Industries was rumoured to be the frontrunner to bid for English Premier League club Liverpool.
RIL also runs the Indian Super League (ISL), along with the All India Football Federation. It has even tied up with the Indian Olympic Association and the Athletics Federation of India to support athletes.
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