Booker price sponsorship renewed

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LONDON, Mar 24: Man Group Plc, the giant hedge fund firm, renewed its sponsorship of the prestigious literary Man Booker Prize in a five-year deal worth 5 million pounds (8.72 dollras million), twice its original size.

Prize money for authors will remain the same, with the winner receiving 50,000 pounds and the six shortlisted authors each receiving 2,500 pounds.

However, Man boosted the deal from its initial 500,000 pounds a year commitment because it has added a new international prize, is helping the Booker Prize Foundation do more charitable work and printing more books in braille.

Booker officials secured the deal just as fellow literary garland, the Whitbread Book Awards, is hunting for a new sponsor after the UK hospitality group Whitbread withdrew from the arrangement in December, 34 years after it created the prize.

''We're close to reaching an agreement with someone,'' a spokeswoman for the awards said yesterday.

Man began sponsoring the Booker fiction prize in 2002 to help showcase its brand to wider audiences. The firm raised the winner's cheque from 20,000 pounds, offered more money to judges and broadened the prize's work with libraries.

The foundation took over the administration of the prize in 2002 from Big Food Group, successor company to Booker Plc, and despite the change in sponsor, the Booker name was retained.

''Man has proved to be a model sponsor and in particular has respected the independence and integrity of the prize,'' said Jonathan Taylor, chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation.

The new deal takes effect from November 2006, a month after the next recipient is chosen. The prize, first set up in 1969, is given to the best novel of the year from British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, and typically boosts sales for the winner.

Albanian writer Ismail Kadare was given the first 60,000 pounds international prize last year, with an additional 15,000 pounds given to Kadare's English translator.

REUTERS

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