Mumbai / Chennai: Sahara Adventure Sports, a Sahara Group company, and a consortium led by Solapur, Maharashtra-based Rendezvous Sports World Ltd will join the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year after bidding a combined $703.33 million (Rs3,200 crore) for the two franchises up for grabs in the Twenty20 cricket tournament.

Sahara Adventure Sports won the Pune franchise with a bid of $370 million. A consortium led by Rendezvous Sports walked away with the franchise for Kochi, at $333.33 million.

Both bidders won the franchises for the next 10 years, organizers said in Chennai.

In an indication of how much IPL has grown, the two new teams together fetched more than the total Rs2,840 crore that its existing eight franchises had been sold for in 2008. The minimum bid price had been fixed at $225 million per franchise this time, against $50 million in the first auction.

Upward trend: IPL commissioner Modi says IPL is recession-proof. R Senthil Kumar/PTI

Besides the winning Sahara offer, Pune attracted other bids—one from the Aman Group at $261.3 million and another from a consortium led by a Videocon Group company, VP Digital Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which bid $319.9 million. The consortium included Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Karishma Kapoor, and Panchshil Realty.

Rendezvous Sports bid for Kochi along with Parinee Developers Pvt. Ltd, Anchor Earth, Film Waves and Anand Shah Developers.

Sahara Adventure Sports made an identical bid of $370 million for Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Pune. “They made the highest bid for all three cites and were asked to choose one of the cities. Accordingly, Pune will be their home ground," said Lalit Modi, commissioner of IPL. “As far as IPL is concerned there is no recession at all. We will continue to be on upward trend," he added. “I don’t foresee any (further) expansion (of the league) in many years to come, but then you never know."

The new franchises will select their players in September and October. Modi said they, too, would be allowed only four non-Indian players on the field.

Sahara spokesman Abhijit Sarkar said: “Sahara is the biggest patron of sports in the country and we have been associated with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) family for the last 15 years. So when we came to know about this proposition of cricket with business, we bid for IPL."

The IPL commissioner had been reported to have said he was mulling over creating another IPL outside India. But on Sunday, he said there would be only one IPL, although some exhibition matches could be held outside the country.

Meanwhile, minister of state for foreign affairs Shashi Tharoor, who hails from Kerala, said he had no stake in the Kochi franchise. His role was confined to encouraging the consortium that eventually bagged the team.

The new team owners were to be announced on 7 March in Mumbai, but the process was deferred as IPL received only three bids that qualified.