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Abhishek Bachchan to launch company dedicated to his sports investments

Bachchan who claims sports is one of his first passions snapped up the opportunity to own a football team and he is also the owner of a team in the Pro Kabaddi League

Urvi Malvania  |  Mumbai 

Actor Abhishek Bachchan is keen to explore sports entrepreneurship more seriously after becoming the owner of a team in the Pro Kabaddi League. He is in the process of setting up a separate company to handle his ventures in the business of sports.

This should be in place by the time the second season of the PKL takes off, in March. He intends to keep the films and sports business separate, for better focus by the respective teams.

Bachchan, who says sports is one of his first passions, also snapped the opportunity to own a football team in the IMG-Reliance and STAR India-promoted Hero Indian Super League. He teamed with Vita Dani of Asian Paints to buy the Chennai team when the Sun Group backed out of the league, giving up the Bangalore franchise. Mahinder Singh Dhoni, head of the Indian cricket team, took a minority stake in the team in the run-up to the launch of the league.

“Chennai is a great city, with people excited about sports. I wanted to invest in football and when the opportunity came along, I was glad to be part of the league. Getting Mahi (Dhoni) on board made perfect sense, given how popular he is with the people of Chennai, thanks to his stint with the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League,” says Bachchan.

As of now, the actor-cum-producer has no plan of getting more investors on board. Further divesting of stake can wait, he feels, and is sure he’d like to continue holding majority stake in the team. Like his peers in the league, Bachchan also gives the team three to five years for breaking even.

“Life is unpredictable though and you never know how the league will perform until the first season is through. For example, in the case of the PKL, I factored a waiting period of at least three years to a maximum of five years before I could break even. Given the way the league and game clicked with the audiences and the performance of the team, I am now looking at reaching break-even point as early as the March 2015 season of PKL and maybe even pull in some profits in the one after that,” he reveals.

The actor invested Rs 5-6 crore on the team this year, with franchise fees around Rs 1.5 crore and the rest for player acquisition and team management.

Bachchan is also a basketball fan and would be glad to be a bigger part of the game in the country if the chance is available. For now, his sports entrepreneurship plans will be limited to kabaddi and football. His team and he are preparing to float a women's kabaddi league in the future. He reveals they’ve been working on it for four months and hope to launch one in the next 12 to 18 months. “Kabaddi is one game where the men’s and women’s teams (in India) are equally illustrious and I feel there is great scope for a tournament for women as well,” he says.

So, does his mean we shall see less of Abhishek the actor?

Bachchan instantly says, “I am and will always be an actor first. But sports is a passion and I am glad to be involved in it. Luckily, I have so far been able to handle both and hope to continue doing so.”

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First Published: Mon, November 10 2014. 00:43 IST