RBS in multi-million deal with F1’s BMW-Williams

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is thought to have signed a major multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Formula One racing team BMW-Williams.

Industry sources say RBS has negotiated a “significant” contract with the British team, which will see the bank’s logo emblazoned on Williams’ cars from next season.

RBS, which was also in talks with McLaren and BAR-Honda (MW August 26), was expected to make a decision on its headline sponsorship at the start of October, but sources say the company delayed its decision because of uncertainty about the F1 calendar.

The future of the British Grand Prix is still in doubt and the sport is facing a potential revolt from its UK sponsors should the Silverstone race be axed from next year’s schedule (MW October 14).

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has set Silverstone’s owners a deadline of tomorrow (Thursday) to agree a contract for next year’s race, but he says he is now confident it will go ahead.

Spokesmen for both RBS and Williams refuse to confirm or deny the rumours, but Marketing Week understands that the deal has been signed.

News of the RBS deal comes amid uncertainty over the high-profile sponsorship deal between BMW-Williams and GlaxoSmithKline’s nicotine replacement therapy product, NiQuitin (MW September 30). The deal is thought to be worth up to &£10m a year, but sources say the pharmaceutical company is close to pulling out unless Williams lowers its fee.

Meanwhile, a judge this week ruled against Ecclestone in a boadroom dispute which challenged the businessman’s control of the company behind F1.

Three creditor banks were disputing the make-up of the board of Formula One Holdings – the company that runs the F1 circuit.

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