April 12, 2010

IPL Kochi team - did Shashi Tharoor help his "fiancee" win the bid?

UGLY CONTROVERSY raises its head!

Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is in a fresh controversy around the Kochi IPL team he “helped” set up that has pitted him and its owners against IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi.

Modi has not only publicly disclosed the names of some of the owners of the consortium that bought the franchisee for $333 million but has also alleged that he was told by Tharoor not to ask who these shareholders were.

This startling claim assumes significance since at the heart of the controversy is the reported 19% stake owned by Sunanda Pushkar in the 25% free equity owned by Rendezvous Sports World Pvt Ltd, the company that led the consortium that finally won the team. The value of Pushkar’s stake is $15.82 million (about Rs 70 crore).

Pushkar is known to be close to Tharoor who, in fact, has been seen introducing her in social circles as his “fiancée.” Currently married — and in the process of separation — Tharoor had earlier said he only offered encouragement, blessings and expert advice to the Kochi bidders.


Pardesi said...

It was Board president Shashank Manohar who, early March, took an unusually strong stand and, while canceling the scheduled auction process for two new franchises, clearly established the IPL as nothing more than a sub-set of the BCCI, and that he, not IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, was the ultimate authority.

Speaking on Manohar’s behalf, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said then:

“The tournament has been launched under the BCCI banner and the committee, which runs the tournament and sets the rules and regulations for the franchises, is formed by the cricket board. The BCCI is the final authority in all cricket-related matters in the country. It is mandatory to have the BCCI president’s approval before the IPL committee decides on anything.”

I’m guessing that must have rankled with Modi, who is prone to considering himself a power in his own right. In fact, while the BCCI hierarchy has to go through the election process, however stage-managed, each year, Modi managed to get an uninterrupted five-year term as IPL commissioner, arguing at the launch of the league that a new venture of this kind needed long-term leadership.

At the time of the auction fiasco, newspapers had with elephantine subtlety suggested that one of the key players responsible for the postponement was ‘a suave Central minister from Kerala’ [camouflage as effective as saying 'a turban-wearing Sikh with a reputation as an economist who happens to be head of state of a major nation'].

For a Modi smarting under Manohar’s strictures [and stymied, one suspects, in his plans of deciding who the next franchises should be], Tharoor now offers the perfect target. And with a directness that could well prove hubristic, he fired off his volleys through the medium of Twitter. In a series of posts, Modi posted details of the breakdown of the consortium that posted the winning bid from the Kochi franchise.

<a href=">MORE HERE</a>

Pardesi said...


Aditi Phadnis adds to the information on the Kochi franchise and its travails.

RSW got the first inkling that something was not quite kosher when they got a message that their bid should be below $300 million. They consulted among themselves and kept the bid at $333 million (Rs 1,533 crore). Sahara bid $370 million (Rs 1,702 crore). Videocon’s bid was $320 million, Adani bid $315 million. Theirs was the closest and they got the franchise.

The members wanted to pop the cork. Too early, cautioned their leader. Get the letter of franchise first. They met IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi in Delhi. The daughter of one of the ministers was present in the room. This was when suggestions were made that they should take $50 million and walk away.

The group was first amused, then flummoxed. “Suppose we walk,” asked one, “who is going to give us $50 million?”

An investment banker, was the laconic reply.

“Come on,” said the leader. “I am an investment banker. I know no one will pay this order of money.”

“A client of an investment banker,” they were told.

The group conferred among themselves and said prestige was involved. “We won’t go,” they said.

Union minister with a home in Bombay. Daughter standing in. How much clearer does it need to be?

Pardesi said...

Neutral observers say the episode is a clash between two groups of “very clever people”. “The conflict of interest in Lalit Modi’s case is clear: His son-in-law has been given web advertising rights and his brother-in-law has a team. And, in Shashi Tharoor’s case, the woman whom he is going to marry has been given free equity worth Rs 75 crore today but it could be worth Rs 500 crore a few years from now. And, when you look at it, the minister of state in charge of the Middle East also has 100 per cent of his business in the Middle East: does that sound like propriety?” asked a member of the BCCI governing council.


Pardesi said...

Probably the most detailed and "CLEAR" discussion of the subject is to be found HERE

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