Shilpa joins IPL bandwagon, buys stake in Rajasthan Royals (Roundup)

February 3rd, 2009 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh KhanMumbai, Feb 3 (IANS) Shilpa Shetty Tuesday became the latest Bolywood star to join the Indian Premier League (IPL) bandwagon when she and London-based NRI businessman Raj Kundra bought a 11.7 percent stake in league champions Rajasthan Royals.The couple has invested $15.4 million in the team, which was bought by London-based Emerging Media Group for $67 million.

With the tie-up, Shilpa becomes the fourth Bollywood star after Preity Zinta, Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla to enter the IPL. While Preity is part-owner of Kings XI Punjab, Shah Rukh and Juhi are co-owners of Kolkata Knight Riders.

Shilpa termed it a strategic business investment and said: “I completely relate to Rajasthan Royals. My story is similar to the team’s journey to the top. It is an honour to be a part of Rajasthan Royals.”

“Whenever the team needs me I will always pitch in. I will be the moral support of my team. The team needed an Indian owner and so I am here,” she added.

Asked if the moved was aimed at getting more fame, Shilpa said: “It is just a game and we should have our own fun. I am not in the run to get more fame. This was just Raj’s business acumen.”

Boyfriend Kundra added: “The team’s success story last year was an inspiration for me. That’s why I am investing in this team.”

“The benefits to us of investing in this venture were to complement the assets of last year’s professionally managed champions. We can add the winning formula of Bollywood to create a true global cricket brand. I believe that the addition of Shilpa Shetty creates a multitude of commercial opportunities - for sponsors, for merchandisers and for ancillary development opportunities,” he added.

Manoj Badale, chairman and joint owner of Rajasthan Royals, said that selling the stake is a part his long-term strategic approach to build the Rajasthan Royals into a global sports brand.

“Our resources are already focused on on-field investment in the key areas of player development infrastructure; international expansion; and to also support continued investment in our playing staff. However, this investment enhances the off-field commercial potential of a brand already recognised throughout India, and much of the global cricketing world,“ he said.

IPL chairman and comissioner Lalit Modi said that the investment has proved that the league is still the best place to get returns in a time of global economic crisis.

“The 11.7 per cent stake which has been acquired by Shilpa and Raj places the overall valuation of the Rajasthan Royals at nearly $140 million, which translates into an astronomical figure of 3,733 per cent capital appreciation for Emerging Media. In my view, this is probably the highest appreciation for any franchise in the history of modern day sports,” he said.

Rajasthan Royals led by the maverick Shane Warne surprised everyone last year by winning the inaugural edition of the tournament ahead of teams that had big stars in their kitty.

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