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RBS to end F1 deal with Williams

ROYAL Bank of Scotland (RBS) will end its sponsorship of the Williams Formula One team when the current deal expires in 2010, the troubled bank said on Wednesday.

RBS, now majority-owned by the British government, was due to report Britain's biggest-ever corporate loss yesterday as well as a restructuring plan and further job losses.

"We recognize that we are now operating in a very different economic environment and have been reviewing all of our activities since October," RBS head of communications Andrew McLaughlin said in a statement.

"It is imperative that we respond to the reality of the situation that we face and that we do so in an orderly way that respects the commercial agreements we have in place and the implications for our partners and the jobs they support."

The bank has sponsored former champion Williams since 2005 and renewed its deal for a second three-year term in 2007.

It also backs tennis player Andy Murray and renewed its sponsorship of the Six Nations rugby tournament through to 2013 last month.

Sponsorship cost

RBS said it expected to halve its sponsorship cost by 2010 and had already cancelled Formula One trackside advertising for 2010.

It added that across all RBS sponsorships, hospitality costs this year had been reduced by around 90 percent.

Williams is the only Formula One team not owned by a billionaire or a manufacturer and since the end of last season the Toyota-powered team has lost sponsorship from companies in the Icelandic Baugur group, Lenovo and Petrobras.

However, 10 other partners have renewed or upgraded deals and team founder Frank Williams said the team was well placed to ride out the next two years.

"RBS is showing great responsibility to the role that we play in the British economy, supporting over 500 highly-skilled technology jobs in a sector in which Britain leads the world," he said.

The team's title sponsor since 2006 has been American telecommunications giant AT&T.

Renault's title sponsor ING has already announced it is withdrawing at the end of 2009, leaving a considerable hole in that team's finances.


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