Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 11 News List

BenQ to sponsor giant Real Madrid

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BenQ Corp (明基), which took over Siemens AG's cellphone unit on Oct. 1, said on Monday it agreed to sponsor Spanish soccer club Real Madrid from next season through 2010 for an undisclosed amount.

The world's richest team will wear the BenQ-Siemens brand on its jerseys and display the logo at its Santiago Bernabeu stadium, BenQ said in a statement. Sports daily Marca said the accord is worth 100 million euros (US$118 million).

"It's one of the top deals" in sports team sponsorship, said Jan Lindemann, global managing director of brand valuation at Interbrand, a London-based consultant. "It's a big leap for BenQ."

Siemens has sponsored Madrid, whose squad includes David Beckham, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, since 2002. The Siemens accord, worth 17 million euros this season according to Marca, expires in June.

Vodafone, the world's largest cellphone company, pays ?9 million (US$15.7 million) a year to put its name on Manchester United's jerseys. According to London-based consultant Redmandarin Ltd, Samsung Electronics Co pays Chelsea ?10 million a year.

BenQ, Taiwan's biggest handset maker, may seek to benefit from its association with Beckham, soccer's richest player who ended a three-year endorsement accord with Vodafone in July.

"There's an opportunity there," Lindemann said.

The association with Taipei-based BenQ will boost Real Madrid in Asia, the team's marketing director Jose Angel Sanchez said in the statement. The team went on tours of China and Japan in the last two years to boost its brand.

Real Madrid ended Manchester United's eight-year reign as the biggest soccer team by revenue after sales rose 17 percent to 275.7 million euros in the year ended June 30, according to accounts approved by the Spanish team's members on Oct. 2.

Madrid failed to win a trophy in the last two seasons, its worst stint in 13 years.

Siemens in June agreed to pay BenQ 250 million euros to take over its unprofitable cellphone unit.

The BenQ brand is worth US$343.5 million compared with Siemens' US$7.5 billion, according to Interbrand.

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