MUMBAI, India (Reuters) - Companies paid millions of dollars on Thursday to buy the eight franchises of the Indian cricket board’s Twenty20 Indian Premier league (IPL).
India’s most valuable company, Reliance Industries Ltd, successfully bid $111.9 million (56.8 million pounds) for the Mumbai team, the Indian board announced after bids for franchises were opened.
United Breweries Ltd, owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, who last year bought into Formula One team Spyker and renamed it Force India, snapped up Bangalore for $111.6 million.
The base price for owing a team for 10 years was set at $50 million. The inaugural event will be held in April.
The league, expected to feature many of the game’s top players, is an effort to counter an unofficial Indian Twenty20 league which began late last year.
“I’m delighted that UB group has got it,” Mallya told reporters. “United Spirits will now use this as an active promotional platform for all our brands,” added Mallya, who lost the Mumbai bid to Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance.
Eleven companies —- some a consortium of individuals —- were in the race to own teams from a choice of 12 cities where the franchises would be based.
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was part of the consortium that clinched Kolkata for $75.09 million, while infrastructure company GMR Holdings won the Delhi franchise for $84 million.
Mohali went for $76 million to a syndicate that included Bollywood actress Preity Zinta while media group Deccan Chronicle won Hyderabad for $107.01 million.
“To date we (the Indian Premier League) have made $1.749 billion,” board vice-president Lalit Modi told a news conference. “We are looking to build on it going forward.”
The companies will pay 10 percent of the bid price to the board every year, a board official said.
Organisers announced last week they had secured a 10-year rights contract worth more than $1 billion for the league. Television rights were worth $918 million, with another $100 million for the league’s promotion.
India Cements won the Chennai franchise for $91 million while Jaipur was snapped up for $67 million by UK-based company Emerging Media.
The 44-day IPL starts on April. 18 and will feature eight franchises with 16-man squads in its inaugural season.
Teams will play home and away games leading up to a grand final. The first year will feature 59 matches played in late afternoon for prime-time television.
India, where cricketers are feted like pop stars, has the largest global cricket audience and multi-million-dollar sponsorship deals.
The IPL has the patronage of the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s governing body, and is intended to be part of a soccer-style Champions League, involving teams from several countries.
Editing by Ken Ferris