Feb 5, 2009

Actress Shilpa Shetty stake in Rajasthan Royals

Shilpa gets $15.4m V-day gift

Money can't buy you love but it sure comes in handy if you're getting your girlfriend a Valentine's Day present. Which is exactly what UK-based businessman and Shilpa Shetty's boyfriend Raj Kundra learnt when he forked out $15.4 million (about Rs 75 crore) for an 11.7% stake in Rajasthan Royals, the first season champs in the Indian Premier League (IPL). "It is a very expensive gift,'' said Shilpa. "I trusted Raj's business acumen and am really proud to be the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals. Being brand ambassador for this team, both our name and our money are at stake.

But this is the most reliable team and they take the game very seriously.'' Asked if the couple's decision had anything to do with the Royals winning last year's final, Shilpa said, "I had bet on this team last season. Plus, the Rajasthan Royals have a huge fan following not only in India but also in the UK where Raj stays. So it was a well-thought out decision.'' Shilpa also has another reason to back the Royals. "They were considered the underdogs--just like I was. That's also why I backed them from the word go.''

As an ambassador for the team, Shilpa's work is cut out. "My association is meant to raise the brand value of the team, making sure the focus doesn't shift from the game.'' The actress will soon be launching a talent hunt for cheerleaders for the Royals. "My experience in Bollywood will help me contribute to the music video, merchandising and other publicity.'' Boyfriend Raj, of course, is only talking business. "I'm planning to shift base to Mumbai and this was the first business venture I decided to plunge into. Rajasthan Royals is the hot favourite in the UK and with Shilpa coming on board, the popularity of the team can only soar higher.'' Kundra is a businessman who runs Essential General Trading LLC, an international trading company dealing in precious metals, gold and diamond jewellery.

This is not Shilpa's first brush with sports. The lithe actress has represented Maharashtra state at volley ball, but believes, "Cricket is areligion in our country. It is the passion for the game that made me get into this business. Besides, my father is a huge cricket fan and was most thrilled when I told him of our plans.'' Shetty has not met team captain Shane Warne as yet. "But I've spoken to him and we'll meet later this week in Goa.'' February 6 is when the auction of the next set of players will take place in Goa.

Last season, Shilpa's team defeated Priety Zinta’s Kings XI. Does she have anything to say to her co-actor? “Nothing really. There's no competition between the owners. Priety has a great team as well.”