Credit Suisse joins Formula 1 'battle of the banks'

ONE of the main announcements surrounding the launch of the Red Bull Sauber Petronas C20 was that financial giant Credit Suisse has come on board as a major backer of the team, joining such institutions as HSBC and MasterCard in Formula 1's own battle of the banks.

Credit Suisse's stated aim is to expand its portfolio management business worldwide, especially in Europe and Asia, and has signed a three-year deal to add Formula 1 to its own portfolio of sporting associations including skiing, soccer, equestrian sport and golf as well as patronage of fine art, fashion and musical events.

"We got together three days before Christmas," said Peter Sauber at the team's 2001 launch. "Credit Suisse brought ideas, enthusiasm and a strong momentum, so much so that I signed the contract on January 12, it's exceptional to have such a huge deal done in so short a time."

The Sauber C20 was wheeled out to a rapturous reception from the largely partisan crowd of 350 media and guests, and the backing of such a high-profile national business clearly curried favor. Inside F1 spoke to Olivier Steimer, CEO of Credit Suisse Personal Finance about the rationale behind the finance house's sponsorship of the team.

"For our needs the opportunity to go into Formula 1 with Sauber is the perfect fit," said Steimer. "Formula 1 reaches 300 million fans with every race and travels to every important market for us through the season, it is a premium brand from which we can launch our strategies to provide financial services and business and build our position in markets such as Asia."

"You don't have to ask why we have joined Sauber when you look at this event today, we have announced our 2001 campaign in front of 280 media representatives and that is exactly what Formula 1 has to offer. Obviously the more opportunity we have to express ourselves globally the better."

In joining Sauber, Credit Suisse is pitching itself into the heart of a long, hard battle in the wake of Formula 1's ‘big two' of McLaren and Ferrari where the works-engined entries of Jaguar, Jordan, BAR, Benetton and Williams will dispute every point and Prost, Arrows and Minardi will be seeking to join the action. Yet Credit Suisse is firmly behind the Sauber effort, reflected in its three-year deal.

"The more global the opportunity we have to highlight Credit Suisse the better it is for us," said Steimer, "but that includes reinforcing our brand awareness and the identity of Credit Suisse. Obviously Peter Sauber is Swiss, his headquarters is here in the Zurich Oberland and that was a winning factor. We are also pleased that he and his team are known to be both efficient and fair within the sport, qualities I think we share."

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