Oct 24, 2008

Sports - Cricket;BCCI may terminate Nimbus rights

Sonali Krishna

MUMBAI: Nimbus, which bagged the telecast rights for domestic cricket and all international matches played at home for $612 million in 2006, seems to be going through some turbulent times. Highly placed officials told ET, that The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is upset with Nimbus, due to outstanding dues of approximately Rs 170 crore. This includes the payment to be made by Nimbus for the upcoming India-England series.

These officials indicated that BCCI has sent a legal notice to Nimbus and may even be contemplating terminating the broadcast rights that was awarded to the sports company three years ago. However, when contacted, BCCI secretary N Srinivasan said: “I am not prepared to offer comments as it relates to our contract with Nimbus and we wish to respect the privacy of the same.”

Nimbus Communications CEO Digvijay Singh said: “We are governed by confidentiality provisions in contracts and therefore can offer no comment in respect of your queries, other than to confirm that we remain in compliance of our payment obligations to BCCI and in respect of security thereof.”

However, BCCI insiders confirmed that there was, in fact, a payment issue that the cricket board was grappling with at the moment. This is not the first time that Nimbus has struggled to meet payment schedules. Last year, BCCI shot off a letter to Nimbus Sports chairman Harish Thawani to pay up Rs 130-crore dues, failing which they would invoke the bank guarantees.

In September, ET had reported that Nimbus was in the market looking for an investor to sell 26% stake. However, given the current market scenario and the fact that Nimbus has less than two years left for their $612.18-million deal with BCCI to expire, it is going to be increasingly difficult to rope in an equity partner. The company was looking at raising $140 million for a 26% stake, valuing the diversified media firm at $550 million. Last year, Nimbus raised $125 million from 3i, Cisco and Oman International Fund.

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