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The IPL is set to unveil its two new franchises in Chennai on Sunday, with at least five bidders reported to be competing for the slots. The process was to have been completed on March 7 but was postponed by two weeks after the bidders and the BCCI objected to stiff financial clauses.

The cities in the fray are Pune, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kanpur, Dharamsala, Vizag, Rajkot, Cuttack, Baroda, Kochi, Indore and Gwalior. It is reported that the five prime bidders are some of the biggest business houses in the country, including Videocon, Adani, Sahara Group (which sponsors the Indian team), Jaypee Group and Pune-based builder Anirudh Deshpande. Bollywood actors Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty are also believed to have bought tenders.

The problem arose in Mumbai when the bidders wanted a clause requiring the bidder to have a net worth of $1 billion, removed. The IPL agreed to remove it and delayed the announcement. The new process will also amend two existing clauses: One will be a reduction of the advance deposit from $100 million to a $10 million "performance guarantee", to be submitted 24 hours in advance of the bid being opened. Another original clause gave the IPL's governing council the discretion to seek from the winning bidder 100% of the amount with a minimum time-frame; under the new process, the winning bids will be expected to pay 10% of their bid within 48 hours. The minimum bid amount, however, remains the same at $225 million.

From next year, the IPL will feature ten teams and - if the current format is retained - a total of 94 games, from the existing 60. After the first season in 2008, the league has already expanded its reach to other centres such as Cuttack, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Dharamsala.

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