After dropping "Kolkata" from Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders, actor Shah Rukh Khan has started discussions with Nokia, Sahara, the Anil Ambani group, and several other companies to sell the team he bought just over a year ago for Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion), and exit the business.
According to sources in Red Chillies Entertainment, KKR's holding company, "Shah Rukh Khan has been trying to sell a stake in KKR for some time now. But since most companies he approached also wanted management control, Khan is now talking to Nokia, Sahara, Anil Ambani and others to sell his entire shareholding."
Khan's public relations officer, however, said she would not be able to confirm the development because she had not met the actor.
None of those who have reportedly been approached confirmed the development. Sahara India's communications director Abhijit Sarkar said: "We have not been approached by Shah Rukh Khan yet. But if he does, we would be happy to buy the team."
D Shivakumar, vice-president and managing director (markets), Nokia India, sent a text message saying: "Shah Rukh Khan will keep the team."
A Reliance Communications spokesperson declined to comment. "A lot of people negotiate with Anil Ambani. I cannot comment unless there is something concrete on table."
According to the Red Chillies official, Khan wants to exit, owing to the team's poor performance -- so far the team has won only one rain-curtailed game under the Duckworth Lewis method--and rising costs.
"If the Board for Control of Cricket in India does not increase the number of teams for next year, Khan could get double what he paid," said the Red Chillies official.
Khan is supposed to pay Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) per year for the next 10 years. The total annual cost for the team is about Rs 75 crore (Rs 750 million).
Khan had earlier said that KKR was easily the most successful IPL franchise, making a Rs 13 crore (Rs 130 million) profit last year. However, his costs trebled last year owing to interventions from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Cricket Association of Bengal.
According to initial calculations, Red Chillies had to pay Rs 90 lakhs (Rs 9 million) per match and was supposed to earn Rs 3 crore if all stadium tickets were sold at Eden Gardens. Red Chillies had to pay Rs 20 lakhs (Rs 2 million) to the police and municipal tax of Rs 500,000. So its expenses per match would have been over Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million). But this figure had trebled.
Last year, however, Kolkata Police demanded Rs 2 crore as security fees, against Rs 50 lakhs (Rs 5 million) that the organisers of the IPL offered. Then, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation demanded Rs 25 lakhs (Rs 2.5 million) from Red Chillies as amusement tax for holding IPL matches at Eden Gardens.
To settle the dispute between Kolkata Police and the IPL organisers over the cost of security arrangements at Eden Gardens, Red Chillies Entertainment had to agree to pay Rs 75 lakhs (Rs 7.5 million) as security fees.
About 5,500 uniformed personnel and about 1,500 sleuths were deployed to secure the stadium and its surrounding areas, since many celebrities were expected to watch the IPL matches at Eden Gardens.