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Kohli Invested in Gaming Firm, Whose Platform is Now a Team India Sponsor: Report

Kohli had in 2019 invested in Galactus Funware Technology, which owns Mobile Premier League (MPL). In November, 2020, BCCI announced MPL Sports – a brand from MPL – as its new kit sponsor.

New Delhi: Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli is facing a conflict of interest situation regarding an investment he had made back in 2019, according to a recent media report.

According to the Indian Express, Kohli had invested in a Bengaluru-based company, Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited, which owns Mobile Premier League (MPL), an online gaming platform. Galactus’s parent company M-League Pte Ltd is registered in Singapore.

The potential conflict of interest arises due to the fact that on November 17, 2020, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced MPL Sports – the sports merchandise brand from MPL – as the new kit sponsor and official merchandise partner for the Indian cricket team.

Not only was Kohli named brand ambassador of MPL in January 2020, he had also endorsed the gaming platform earlier.

As per the report, Kohli was allotted 68 compulsory convertible debentures (CCDs) with a face value of Rs 10, each issued at a premium of Rs 48,990 (Rs 33.32 lakh). (CCDs are debt instruments which compulsorily get converted into equity shares at a future point in time.)

Once these CCDs get converted into equity shares at the end of 10 years, the conversion ratio being 1:1, i.e. one equity share for one debenture, Kohli will own a 0.051% stake in the company.

Indian Express accessed more data associated with this matter and found that at the same extraordinary general meeting on February 5, 2019, when Kohli was issued the CCDs, Galactus also issued 34 CCDs worth Rs 16.66 lakh to Cornerstone Sport LLP’s chief executive officer Amit Arun Sajdeh.

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Sajdeh is Kohli’s partner in two other limited liability partnership firms — Magpie Venture Partners LLP and Virat Kohli Sports LLP. Added to that, Sajdeh is the director at another firm, Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment Private Limited, which manages the commercial rights of Kohli, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Shubman Gill.

Sajdeh told Indian Express, “I have said this time and again, Virat and Cornerstone are free to invest in as many businesses as they wish to. There is no conflict whatsoever as long as Virat is not invested in Cornerstone.”

A top BCCI official told the Indian Express that the board was not aware that Kohli and Cornerstone have invested in MPL. “We cannot be expected to track investments of players,” he told the Indian Express.

Another BCCI member said: “He (Kohli) is an influential figure in Indian cricket and such inter-connections aren’t ideal for good governance.”

The Indian board’s constitution defines commercial conflict as: “When an individual enters into endorsement contracts or other professional engagements with third parties, the discharge of which would compromise the individual’s primacy obligation to the game or allow for perception that the purity of the game stands compromised.”