SBJ/Sept. 2-8, 2013/Global Special Issue

Globosport ready for the spotlight

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Imagine a star player announcing a high-profile agent search, interviewing all the top outfits. And in the end he chooses one of his colleagues, a player.

Impossible? Not in tennis, where that scenario played out with U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray tapping doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi as his agent. Murray also retained Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment for offcourt marketing.

Murray spurned well-known firms like IMG and Lagardère, as well as incumbent CAA Sports, which hotly wooed
Mahesh Bhupathi
Photo by: Getty Images
him, to choose Bhupathi’s Globosport, an 11-year old Indian sports marketing and movie firm.

It was a highly nontraditional choice to say the least.

Globosport has 40 employees spread around five offices in India and one in Dubai. It handles sports marketing in India for brands including Procter & Gamble and Colgate, which essentially means creating activation programs around cricket. And in recent years it has gone into the movie business.

“We are branching out in the entertainment space, we own TV content and movies in India,” Bhupathi said. He said Globosport has produced one motion picture and has several more in development.

So why would Murray choose such a firm? After all, Globosport does not represent any other athletes. Its website is somewhat antiquated, with dated information on clients and events the firm no longer represents.

Murray himself was not available for comment, but in the May press release announcing the venture between XIX and Globosport to represent him, the Scotsman said, “Mahesh’s understanding of the sport will create the perfect team for my off-court interests and will allow me to continue to dedicate myself and focus on my goals on the court.”

More than that though, in a global sport like tennis, for Murray to know Bhupathi will be at most events is something few agencies can offer.

Perhaps Bhupathi answered it best when asked how often he meets with Murray.

“Every week at tournaments,” he said, almost puzzled that was a question. “I see him every day.”

And with no other players to manage, Globosport can give heightened attention to its one player, something the big agencies cannot offer.

Bhupathi, who went pro in 1991 and was for a time the No. 1-ranked doubles players in the world, still resides in the top 10. Despite his active playing schedule, Bhupathi is hardly some athletic figurehead at Globo-sport. He founded and runs the company.

When not on the court, he is regularly in touch with his firm’s top managers, with an active hand in decisions. “I have a good team that manages stuff when I am travelling,” he said.

Globosport also received a cash infusion from New York marketer Platinum Rye, which bought half the company
The agency landed a big fish in signing Wimbledon champ Andy Murray.
Photo by: Getty Images
last year. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

That money has helped fuel Globo-sport, which is behind the launch of the International Premier Tennis League.
The exhibition team tennis series launches next year, with Asia and Middle Eastern franchises expected to sell for $10 million apiece.

That November-only series, which will count on stars like Murray committing to it, could push Globo-sport more fully into the sports space in Asia.

Currently, the company is largely focused on India, helping brands navigate the market and tap into native sports and stars. But the International Premier Tennis League could offer platforms for brands seeking to invest in markets like Asia where tennis is a hot sport.

And who knows, maybe Bhupathi and his star client will even be on the same team … again.

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