Venkys, the flagship company of Pune-based $1 billion Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group has hatched an audacious diversification plan by bidding for the 135-year old English premier division football club, Blackburn Rovers.
Venkys, which has been in the poultry farming business since the past nearly 40 years, and later into veterinary pharmaceuticals, has decided to enter a sector that is totally unrelated to its core business.
After a series of meetings and exhaustive due diligence, Venkys has held detailed discussions and is expected to close the deal early next month.
According to various media reports, Venkys is likely to offer around £40 million (approx Rs280 crore) for the club, which was in tenth place in the league last year. The club currently has debt of around £20 million.
In a statement put out on the club's website, Rovers chairman John Williams said, "A series of meetings, including discussions with the Premier League, have followed an extensive due diligence process. Both parties are hopeful that the transaction will be completed in November."
Venkys chairperson Anuradha Desai, daughter of Dr BV Rao, the founder of the Group, said, "We expect to be the first Indian company to acquire a Premier League team and we are particularly delighted that the team is Blackburn Rovers, with whom we believe we have many shared values and ambitions."
The owners of Blackburn Rovers, The Jack Walker Trust had put the club up for sale in 2008 in order to attract investment, and since many suitors including Indians had shown interest in buying the club.
Saurin Shah, a little known Indian entrepreneur name was being touted in June this year, as a possible buyer but nothing seemed to have come out of it. Later Ahasan Ali Syed, head of Bahrain-Swiss based investment firm Western Gulf Advisory made a formal bid amid huge fanfare, only to disappear as soon as he came after it was revealed that he had loads of debts.