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Dhoni Signs Biggest Endorsement Deal Of Rs 26 Cr With UB Group

PTI 03 Dec 2010, 20:19:22 IST
New Delhi:  Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has signed signed the biggest endorsement deal for an Indian sportsperson — with Vijay Mallya's UB Group, valued at more than Rs 8 crore a year.  

Dhoni has signed a three-year endorsement deal with the country's largest spirit maker for Rs 25-26 crore, two officials in direct knowledge of the deal told Economic Times.

"UB plans to activate the deal just before the Cricket World Cup kicks off in February," one of the officials said on condition of anonymity.  

India is co-hosting the world cup along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and corporates are scrambling to associate with the event as well as top Indian cricketers to make the most of the cricket craze in India.  

The deal puts the Indian captain at par with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the endorsement space, just behind Aamir Khan, who early this year signed a record Rs 30-crore deal with telecom operator Etisalat.  

Dhoni will be associated with McDowell's soda, the officials said. But it is an integrated deal that will go beyond brand endorsements , they added.  

A UB Group spokeswoman said, "Yes, a deal has been signed between the UB group and the India captain MS Dhoni." She, however, refused to disclose financial or other details of the deal. A formal announcement by the UB group is expected in January .  

The deal has been inked through the Arun Pandey-promoted talent management and entertainment firm Rhiti Sports Management, which recently signed a Rs 210-crore contract with Dhoni to manage all his endorsements , brand associations, patents and digital rights, images , visibility on social networking sites and merchandise for three years. Pandey could not be reached for comment.  

Dhoni, who led India to victory in the 2007 World Twenty20 championship, was rated the world's highest paid cricketer by Forbes magazine last year ahead of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar . The Indian captain had earned $10 million last year.  

Dhoni signed the deal with Rhiti Sports after calling for pitch from six talent management firms including IMG, Percept, PMG Sports, World Sport Group, Purple People and Planman Consulting.  

Rhiti Sports, along with a joint venture with Mindscapes One, has offered a minimum guarantee of Rs 210 crore to the cricket captain in three years.  

Experts in the talent management space believe this is achievable because, besides being immensely popular across the country and a huge success as Indian captain, Dhoni has an image of being a celebrity who is professional on the sets.  

Before the UB deal, Dhoni's most expensive deal was with Reebok for close to Rs 29-30 crore for a 5-year period, which makes it about Rs 6 crore a year.  

He is associated with 22 brands including footwear and apparel major Reebok, beverages and snacks company PepsiCo, real estate group Amrapali, telecom company Aircel and Future group's Big Bazaar retail chain.  

He had been also associated with UB's rival spirits maker Pernod Ricard India (earlier Seagram ).