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World Cup's Corporate Underdogs Make Statement

Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Adidas may get the glory, but companies like MTN and Mahindra Satyam are making inroads through World Cup sponsorships.

JOHANNESBURG (TheStreet) -- Like the vuvuzela horns droning through World Cup stadiums, the appeal of some of the event's biggest sponsors is lost on all but the savviest Westerners.



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are household names to the American sports fan, some of the names lining the pitch are less so.

For both fans and investors, these companies may be just as worthwhile to look out for in the future as a young substitute forward who scores a late-game goal. Here are some World Cup sponsors that should mean more to American consumers and investors than just a name scrolling on a sign during the 70th minute:

Mahindra Satyam


: This Hyderabad, India-based IT and consulting powerhouse saw its stock nearly double after an accounting scandal laid it low early last year. A partnership with

Integr8 Group

, Africa's largest private information and communication technologies provider, and Satyam's absorbtion by the Mahindra & Mahindra supergroups (whose products range from farm equipment and cars to tech support service) have only strengthened the company's position.


: What

Verizon Wireless

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is to the U.S., MTN is to Africa and the Middle East. With more than 90 million subscribers in 21 countries, South Africa-based MTN is looking to tap into a largely uncultivated mobile market that it says will expand from nearly 50% of the global population today to 75% in 2013.


: Sure, having a global food supplier on the books is nice, but Seara's parent company, Marfrig Group, is the big catch here. Known best in the U.S. as the producer of Pemmican beef jerky, the Sau Paulo, Brazil-based Marfrig food processing company exports beef, pork and poultry to 100 countries from its more than 90 slaughterhouse facilities around the world. Of late, it's expanded into 13 countries and is looking to beef up its global presence.

Yingli Green Energy


: Energy-stock fans, especially solar fans, have been watching this Chinese company for a while. The solar-panel producer went public in 2007.


Jim Cramer may not be a fan right now, but this "green energy" company is hoping to win some converts with its carbon-neutral World Cup displays.

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Masincedane Sport

: While not a sponsor, the company is factoring heavily into this year's tournament as the manufacturer of the polarizing vuvuzelas that provide the familiar buzz heard during this year's contests. It may lack the broader base of the sponsor companies, but it has sold 1.5 million vuvuzelas in Europe since November and estimates it will make more than $2.6 million from vuvuzela sales during the World Cup. Though the French national team complained about them and the organizing committee hadn't ruled out a

vuvuzela ban

, FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted today that


are here to stay.

Go long on ambient, droning noise.

-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.


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Jason Notte is a reporter for His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.