Dhoni inks Rs 200 cr endorsement deal

     Indian cricket captain M S Dhoni has inked a Rs.200 crore endorsement and talent management deal that takes him past Sachin Tendulkar in the corporate contract sweepstakes. Dhoni has snapped up a three-year deal with sports and talent management firms Rhiti Sports Management and Mindscapes One, two persons familiar with the development said. The companies, through a joint venture, will manage Dhoni's long list of endorsements and brand associations, corporate profile, patents and digital rights, images, visibility on social networking sites and merchandise, they said. Tendulkar held the corporate contract crown earlier, thanks to a Rs 180-crore deal with sports management firm Iconix for three years in 2006. Rhiti Sports is headed by Arun Pandey, a confidant and business associate of Dhoni, while Mindscapes One is owned by Pratik Sen, who has been managing the cricketer's endorsements for more than a year. Sangeet Shirodkar, a familiar face in the sports management space, has been appointed as marketing president of the JV, the persons said. Dhoni apart, Rhiti Sports manages cricketers R P Singh and Harbhajan Singh. Dhoni charges up to Rs 6 crore an endorsement a year and is associated with 22 brands such as PepsiCo, Reebok, Aircel, Godrej and Hersheys. An agency gets a fee of up to 30% of the total endorsement charges of a celebrity it manages. Dhoni earned 10 million dollars last year, which made him top a list of the world's highest-grossing cricketers, said a Forbes magazine report. Mindscapes has been managing Dhoni's endorsements to date while his digital rights were split between several agencies. Dhoni ended a long-running deal with sports management firm Gameplan Sports two years ago. Last year, he formally joined Mindscapes Maestros along with three promoters. But internal differences cropped up between the owners, resulting in one quitting the company.

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