Zee-Ten Sports: A sporting partnership

Ten Sports has finally been taken over by Zee Telefilms. After wavering between Zee and Sony, Ten Sports finally sold controlling interest to Zee in a cash deal worth over Rs256.6 crore, reports CNBC-TV18.

Zee will fund the deal through internal accruals and will get majority representation on the board of Ten Sports' parent Taj TV, owned by Abdul Rahman Bukhatir's Bukhatir Investments Ltd, located in Dubai Media City in the UAE. Zee can buy the rest of the stake in Ten Sports after 2009, when its distribution contract with One Alliance expires.

"We will get access to their sports properties like Pakistan Cricket Board, Sri Lanka Cricket Board and West Indies rights as well as UEFA Champions League, US Open etc and we will also get a footprint in markets like Middle East, Far East and Europe where we are not present," said Subhash Chandra, chairman, Zee Telefilms.

Zee will consolidate Taj TV's financials into its balance sheet. It expects this deal will help its top line grow $50 million over the next three years. The development will also impact its bid for ICC media rights over the next eight years. By buying Ten Sports, Zee's only effective rival in the bid is the ESPN Star Sports combine. Zee hopes its consolidation will drive down cricket valuations.

"I certainly don't see the rights valued at more than $750 million and don't try to probe me further because I can't tell you our bid amount but I don't see value in the rights at $750 million," said Chandra.

But Zee might need the rights to boost its cricket portfolio. Zee Sports holds rights to just 25 matches at neutral venues and Ten Sports has no Indian cricket rights. Zee has pinned hopes on the ICC rights, which will be decided on Friday. And those rights could make the alliance even sweeter.