Emerald Media, a pan-Asia company backed by global investment firm KKR, on Friday announced it had acquired a significant minority stake in Global Sports Commerce (GSC), a leading sports technology and management company, through a combination of primary and secondary investments.
The aggregate investment of $80 million will include the secondary purchase of Asia-focused private equity firm FidelisWorld’s stake in Techfront, and the primary growth capital.
Strong sports focus
Singapore-headquartered GSC consists of 13 subsidiaries with offices in 16 cities, across 10 countries, including India. It provides technology solutions in LED signage, sponsorship and commercial management, AR/VR, drone-based data acquisition, wireless tech and data-sciences, and consulting services to leading global sports stakeholders including sports bodies, leagues, rights holders, stadiums and brands.
It offers clients technology and management services by leveraging its network of companies that include Techfront, ITW, Qubercomm, Sportsgateway, Media Bay, Beyond Boundaries, Cartoon Mango and Nanoyotta.
GSC provides services to FIFA, the English Premier League, NRL Australia, Australian Football league, IPL, Formula 1, Big Bash League, New Zealand Cricket, Cricket Australia, IMG and Asia Sports.
FidelisWorld, which had invested in GSC's subsidiary Techfront in 2014, will fully exit the business as part of the transaction. Asia-focused private equity firm ADV Partners, which invested in GSC in 2015-16, will continue to hold a significant minority stake in the company. MS Muralidharan, CEO of GSC, said,
We are very happy to have a strong partner in Emerald Media, whose investment experience and critical connections across the globe will help deepen GSC’s engagement with the world of sports. This investment further contributes to the consolidation of sports commerce worldwide via use of technology, and it helps us expand our international footprint.
Emerald Media is led by industry veterans Rajesh Kamat and Paul Aiello, and looks to provide growth capital and strategic value addition to the fast-growing media, entertainment, consumer tech and B2B industries across Asia for which parent company, KKR, has committed up to $300 million from its KKR Asian Fund II. Paul, the MD of Emerald Media, added,
In a few short years, GSC has established itself as a leader in the sports technology industry. We are pleased to partner with M S Muralidharan who is a pioneer in the field, and look forward to accelerating the expansion of the business as a key player in the industry, as it further expands its reach in the global market.
Sector overview and future plans
Talking about the impact of digital technology on sport, Rajesh, MD of Emerald Media, said
The introduction of digital technology into the world of sports has helped amplify fans’ appreciation of games, and has helped to create an alternative source of revenue for clients, besides the games themselves.
He believes GSC has been able to effectively transform the sports tech scene in India and across the globe by enhancing the way sports franchises interact with fans, and capitalising on the ardour of their fan base.
Since its launch, GSC has cultivated strong relationships with franchises across the sporting world with the aim of enhancing the commercial value of its sporting clients and creating new avenues for commerce.
The growth capital will enable GSC and its global affiliate Techfront to explore inorganic acquisition opportunities, develop next-generation technologies for the sporting eco-system, and expand operations in the fast-growing digital sporting solutions markets across the globe.