Emerald Media, the pan-Asia company backed by leading global investment firm KKR, has acquired a significant minority stake in Global Sports Commerce (GSC), one of the world’s largest sports technology and management companies.
The exact size of the stake was not disclosed, but it will involve an $80m (€64.9m) aggregate investment through the secondary purchase of Asia-focused private equity firm FidelisWorld’s stake in Techfront and the primary growth capital.
The two parties said the growth capital will enable Singapore-headquartered GSC and its global affiliate Techfront to explore inorganic acquisition opportunities, develop next generation technologies for the sporting eco-system, and expand its operations in the fast-growing digital sporting solutions markets across the globe.
FidelisWorld, which had invested in Techfront in 2014, will be fully exiting 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.
GSC operates in the fields of LED signage, sponsorship management, premium consulting, fan engagement, AR/VR, drone-based data acquisition, wireless tech and data-sciences. It offers clients these services by leveraging its network of companies that include Techfront, ITW, Qubercomm, Sportsgateway, Media Bay, Beyond Boundaries, Cartoon Mango and Nanoyotta.
The sporting entities that GSC has partnered with include world football’s governing body Fifa, the English Premier League, Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League, New Zealand Cricket, Cricket Australia, the Formula One motor-racing championship, and the IMG agency.
M S Muralidharan, chief executive of GSC, said: “We are very happy to have a strong partner in Emerald Media, whose team’s extensive 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.”
Rajesh Kamat, managing director of Emerald Media, added: “The introduction of digital technology into the world of sports has helped amplify fans’ appreciation of the games and has helped to create an alternative source of revenue for clients, besides the games themselves. GSC, with its 360-degree sports solutions, has transformed sports tech in India and across the globe by enhancing the way sports franchises interact with fans and capitalising on the ardour of their fan base.”