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Mumbai: Oppo Mobiles India, the local arm of Chinese smartphone firm Oppo Electronics Corp., outbid another Chinese smartphone company, Vivo, to win the sponsorship rights for the Indian cricket team.

There were only two bids.

Oppo offered to pay Rs1,079 crore, almost double the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) reserve price of Rs538 crore. Vivo bid Rs768 crore. Both Oppo and Vivo are subsidiaries of BBK Electronics Corp.

Oppo’s bid is five times what the current sponsor Star India had offered to pay in 2013.

Star didn’t bid this time.

In a 27 February interview published in The Times of India, Star India CEO Uday Shankar cited “volatility" in India’s cricket establishment and “uncertainty" over the future tours programme as reasons for not bidding.

His reference was to BCCI’s legal troubles and its issues with the International Cricket Council.

Oppo’s five-year deal (starting April) includes the right to be called the official team sponsor and the right to display a commercial logo on the clothing of the men’s cricket team, the under-19 side, the men’s A-Team and the women’s squad.

The men’s team will play 14 home series and 20 overseas series, including the ICC Champions Trophy, ICC Cricket World Cup and the World T20 events in this period.

Rahul Johri, chief executive officer at BCCI, saw the high bids as proof of the “strength of Indian cricket and the opportunity that BCCI provides to companies".

A media buyer agreed.

“Can anyone even imagine any other sport attracting this kind of money? Cricket is and will remain the No.1 sport in the country," said Vinit Karnik, business head of ESP Properties, the sports and entertainment arm of media buying agency GroupM.

“We aim at reaching new heights alongside the Indian Cricket Team," Sky Lee, global vice-president and president at Oppo Mobiles India, said in a statement.

Media buyers estimate that Chinese smartphone brands will spend Rs1,300 crore on advertising this year. Vivo is the title and presenting sponsor for the 10th season of the Indian Premier League, starting 5 April.

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