Former Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni could land himself in trouble for endorsing two competing gym and fitness chains.
The Delhi High Court has recently issued notice to Mahendra Singh Dhoni on a petition seeking to restrain him from endorsing Fit7, a gym and fitness chain, on the ground that he already has an exclusive endorsement agreement with Sportsfit World Private Limited (SWPL).
The high court has also sought response from SWPL, its directors, and Fit7 World Private Limited and posted the case for further hearing on September 13.
Vikas Arora, a 33 per cent stakeholder in SWPL, has contended in his petition that the directors of SWPL have decided not to act against Mahendra Singh Dhoni despite clear breach of endorsement agreement.
Arora, who has invested Rs 22 crores into SWPL, said due to differences with 65 per cent majority stakeholders – Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and Rhiti MSD Alamode Private Limited – he has agreed to exit SWPL at predetermined price. A separate proceeding in respect of the buy-out has already been initiated, he said.
Arora also claimed he has instituted criminal proceedings against Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“The breach of the agreement committed by respondent no. 1 (Dhoni) will cause great prejudice to respondent no. 4 (SWPL) and prevent it from optimally utilizing the benefits thereunder,” his petition said.
Admittedly, Arora has filed the petition as a “derivative action” on behalf of SWPL as he does not have ‘personal right’ to seek such relief. He alleged in his petition that the management of SWPL was “clearly not interested in protecting the interest” of the company.
IN DHONI’S DEFENCE
Sanjay Pandey, one of the directors of SWPL, told Hindustan Times that, “Arora has filed a frivolous petition which is totally baseless and even the maintainability of the petition has been questioned by the High Court”.
Pandey said the petition was filed as “a pressure tactic to blackmail and to unnecessary drag and malign the name of Mahendra Singh Dhoni into an unnecessary controversy”.
It is also to “pressurize the company from withdrawing its complaints and claims made against Vikas Arora and his accomplices for various breaches, defaults and illegalities committed by them in the past,” Pandey said.
“In fact the present management is trying to undo the huge financial losses caused to the company by Vikas Arora and his accomplices who have swindled large sums of money running into several crores from the company,” Pandey contended.
When asked about Arora’s allegation that the two directors of Fit7, Ashwini Kumar Panndey and Ashutosh Kumar Pandey, are also directors of Rhiti companies, Pandey said, “All the allegations are unfounded, baseless and frivolous and have only been made to harass the present management of the company”.