Olympics chiefs seek £750m in business sponsorship

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The Independent Online

Organisers of the London Olympics unveiled detailed plans yesterday to finance the Games with £750m in sponsorship deals from British-based companies.

The drive to raise cash will begin later this year when the organising committee, LOCOG, picks the first two of 10 "top-tier" companies which will pay at least £50m for a six-year association with the 2012 event.

LOCOG has divided its fundraising efforts into 10 commercial sectors, the first four being automotive, utilities, telecommunications and banking. These companies will be expected to offer cash but also value in kind and help organise community and schools programmes linked to the Olympics.

In return, they will be able to use the London 2012 logo, which incorporates the famous interlocking Olympic rings and whose design will be chosen by the end of this year.

Unveiling the marketing strategy at the government-sponsored 2012 Business Summit, the LOCOG deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills promised businesses that their investment would be protected by the toughest ever anti-guerrilla marketing legislation included in the Olympics Bill. "They will have the comfort to reap the full benefits without being undermined by unauthorised companies," Sir Keith said.

The organisers are prohibited by the International Olympic Committee from offering sponsorship deals to any of the rivals of their ongoing contracts, a roll-call of global brands such as McDonalds, Visa, Samsung and Panasonic.

LOCOG declined to name any potential sponsors but it is thought interest may come from the telecommunications giant BT, Barclays, whose Canary Wharf headquarters houses the Olympics staff, and the energy provider Scottish and Southern. LOCOG reckons £50m is a modest price, considering the telecommunications firm Bell Canada paid £100m for a comparable association with the 2012 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

About 100 companies will be signed up to the sponsorship deals, although LOCOG has not decided the cost of second and third-tier packages. Sponsorship will contribute 35 per cent of the £2bn operating budget, Sir Keith said, with the remainder coming from ticketing, merchandise and broadcast rights. LOCOG expects to produce a profit of £100m, which will be invested in British sport.