Hampshire have confirmed they are “fully engaged in some detailed negotiations” with prospective investors after the Telegraph reported that GMR Group, the co-owners of Delhi Capitals, are in advanced talks with Rod Bransgrove about buying his share in the club’s parent company.
Bransgrove, who saved Hampshire from insolvency in 2000, stood down as chair of the cricket club last year and has been succeeded by Nick Pike. But Bransgrove remains the chair of – and the majority shareholder in – Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings Ltd, the club’s parent company.
Upon buying the club, Bransgrove turned Hampshire from a members’ club into a public limited company, which is valued at over £100 million but carries a debt of £61 million. In the biography Back from the Brink by Ivo Tennant, Bransgrove said that he had turned down a substantial offer for the club in 2022 from “a very successful businessman”.
The Telegraph reported on Wednesday night that Bransgrove is “close to agreeing a deal” to sell his shares to GMR Group, who along with JSW Group run Delhi Capitals. GMR Group also own Dubai Capitals in the UAE’s ILT20 and are part-owners of Seattle Orcas in Major League Cricket.
“Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings Ltd has made no secret of the fact that it has been investigating a number of investment options for some time now and, in the course of these investigations, the Company has engaged with a number of parties under conditions of confidentiality,” a Hampshire spokesperson said.
“Whilst it is true that the Company is fully engaged in some detailed negotiations regarding investment, the nature and content of any such investigations are subject to formal Non-Disclosure Agreements which the Company is bound to observe.
“To date, we have concluded no formal binding agreements other than NDAs. We repeat, therefore, we can make no further comment about the status of our negotiations until such time as we have something to disclose.”
One proposal being discussed extensively around the Hundred involves the ECB transferring equity stakes in the eight teams to the clubs that play at their host venues. If that proposal is approved, Hampshire’s parent company would then take control of Southern Brave, who are based at the Ageas Bowl.
Gordon Hollins, Somerset’s departing chief executive, outlined the background to support for private investment among several counties at a members’ forum late last year. “The big question that’s being asked around the [English] game is: in a world of flat income, high inflation and growing costs, how do we generate more investment in the game?” Hollins said.
Bransgrove and GMR Group were contacted for comment.