Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Wednesday said it will acquire a franchise in Cricket South Africa's upcoming T20 league, as it looks to strengthen its growing international footprint in cricket.
All six teams in the new South African T20 league have been bought by owners of franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL). RPSG Sports Pvt. Ltd., the owner of IPL's Lucknow Super Giants, has won the bid for the Durban team.
Based out of Cape Town, RIL's new franchise will take forward the Mumbai Indians brand. The acquisition comes close on the heels of RIL acquiring a UAE-based International League T-20 team.
"With our South African franchise, we now have three T20 teams across three countries. We look forward to leveraging our expertise and depth of knowledge in the cricket ecosystem and brand Mumbai Indians to help build the team and provide fans with some of the best cricketing experiences," Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio, says in a statement.
Reliance Industries says it has played a crucial role in evolving the sports ecosystem through ownership of cricket franchises, football league in India, sports sponsorship, consultancy, and athlete talent management, and bringing in industry best practices.
"We are excited to take the Mumbai Indians' brand of fearless and entertaining cricket to South Africa, a nation that loves cricket as much as we do in India! South Africa has a strong sporting ecosystem, and we look forward to exploring the power and potential of this collaboration. As we grow MI's global cricketing footprint, we remain committed to spreading joy and cheer through sport," says Nita Ambani, director of Reliance Industries.
Reliance Foundation Sports, the CSR wing of RIL, has been leading India's Olympic Movement by providing opportunities to athletes across the country to become champions in multiple sports and also leading India's charge in hosting global sporting events. Earlier this year, Nita Ambani led a successful bid to host the prestigious International Olympic Committee Session in Mumbai in 2023 after a gap of 40 years.
The acquisition comes weeks after Reliance-backed Viacom 18 bagged the digital rights of Indian Premier League last month for which it coughed up close to ₹23,578 crore (a 70% premium over the base price). The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) raised a record ₹48,390 crore by auctioning media rights for 410 matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the period 2023-27, with digital rights exceeding TV rights for the first time. DisneyStar retained the IPL TV rights for the Indian subcontinent for ₹23,575 crore.