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EUROPEAN TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT


May 24, 2012


George O'Grady

Mathias Vorbach

Keith Waters

Edwin Weindorfer


PAUL SYMES:¬† Thanks for joining us, ladies and gentlemen.¬† If we could just start by making some introductions, obviously George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour.¬† Next to him is Mathias Vorbach, director of marketing and communications of Lyoness.¬† Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour and to Keith's right we have Edwin Weindorfer, managing partner of Golf Open Event, the tournament promotors.¬† And finally last but by no means least we have Ali Al‑Khaffaf, the managing director of the tournament promoters Golf Open Event.
George, if you would like to say a few words.
GEORGE O'GRADY:  Thanks for joining us for another very important announcement for The European Tour to bring another tremendous sponsor who have been following our progress for some years and now securing the Austrian Open for the next three years.  The whole negotiation has been handled by the people on my right, specifically Keith Waters, chief operating officer of The European Tour, so I'll hand over to Keith for the details.
KEITH WATERS:  Thank you, George and thank you, everybody.  Good morning.  As everyone knows, the European market, in particular, is very challenging for us.  We have managed to announce some new events in different parts of the globe very recently the BMW announcement in Shanghai at the Beijing Motor Show.
The partnership with BMW goes from strength‑to‑strength.¬† They also supported the Open de Espa√Īa at the last moment just two or three weeks ago.¬† That just highlights the challenges we have in Europe.¬† So this announcement today is particularly gratifying.¬† We are very pleased that we have managed to secure the Lyoness support for a further three years.¬† They have been the presenting sponsor for the Austrian Open previously, and now they have stepped up to the title sponsorship.
This will secure the event for three years at the Diamond Country Club where Christian Guzy, the owner of the course, has invested heavily over the last few years to bring that course up to a European Tour standard.  And I know the players from their comments certainly enjoy playing there.
There is a wider relationship with line necessary.  They have similar aspirations to the Tour itself in developing environmental, sustainable programs around golf tournaments and golf courses.  I'll let Mathias speak on that further, but many thanks to Mathias and your team for your support.  We are absolutely delighted and also for he had win and the promoters of the tournament.  Thank you.
MATHIAS VORBACH:  First of all, I would like to thank The European Tour for their support and for the opportunity to be here.
Yes, setting up this partnership is very important for line necessary.¬† Golf is a perfect communication and marketing platform for us as a worldwide operating company, and therefore, you know, we already‑‑ golf is not new for line necessary.¬† We already promoted the Alps Tour and organised tournaments on the Alps Tour since 2008.¬† Therefore, becoming a presenting sponsor last year of the Austrian Open was already a big opportunity for line necessary to make the next step regarding a worldwide and a global marketing activity in the field of golf.
And therefore, becoming now the title sponsor of the Lyoness Open presented by Greenfinity really makes us proud.
The Lyoness Open are one of the biggest and well-known, famous tournaments in Austria, and you know, even becoming now an official partner and supplier of The European Tour is really, yeah, makes it round.
It gives us the opportunity to develop our markets and new markets.  The European Tour covers all of the important markets of Lyoness, especially Europe, the Middle East and Asia and for sure, even the United States, and this is very important for us.
So it's a big chance, and we are very proud of being a partner here and of The European Tour and even from, yeah, title sponsor of The Lyoness Open.  Thank you very much.
EDWIN WEINDORFER:  Thank you very much for attending this press conference.  It's quite important for us.  I want to thank George and Keith for their support.
This is the seventh year we are now in the calendar and we are doing the Austrian Open; in this case, the Lyoness Open.  We used to work together with Bank of Austria as a title sponsor for three years, and then for three years we kept the event alive and we kept it in good shape without a title sponsor and with a lot of other partners.
Last year Lyoness came on board as a presenting partner and we are really glad that we found a way that Lyoness will be the title sponsor of The Austrian Open, which means the Lyoness Open Powered by Greenfinity for the next three years.  That's very important for us, and we have had a lot of great players in the last years, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Pádraig Harrington, John Daly, Graeme McDowell, they all played the Austrian Open, and we are looking forward for some great golf in the future.
I also would like to thank Ali-Khaffif, our managing director who runs the operations, the golf operations, within this new company, this new joint venture, and yeah, we are also glad because we have now four Austrian players on this Tour, and one of them, Bernd Weisberger, who I actually just saw, in second position after the first shot of the tournament, but he just won a very important tournament.
We believe that golf will further grow in Austria and in the whole central Eastern European region where Austria is taking a lead part, also economy‑wise, and we are really glad for this partnership.¬† Thank you again to Lyoness and thank you to The European Tour for the ongoing support over the last years.

Q.  What will the prize fund be?
KEITH WATERS:  The prize fund will remain at 1 million Euro.

Q.  We are watching the TV virtually every night now with all of the leaders of Europe worrying about the Euro and what's going to happen in Greece, etc., etc.  So for a company like yourselves, what was it about golf that made you think that in these troubled times you could put your money into this event?
MATHIAS VORBACH:  You know, for us, it's an ideal situation and opportunity, because our core business on the one hand is providing our customers and members shopping opportunities, not only in Austria, but it's extra spending and country spending and worldwide opportunities to save money to get very interesting benefits and refunds.  And on the other hand, we are I think just unique as a global loyalty program to our loyalty merchants.
So golf is on the one hand, in terms of B2B communication, is very important on the one hand.  But on the other hand it is really ideal to develop new target groups.  So in this case, you know, even, or especially with The European Tour and its professionals, infrastructure; for example, regarding the media coverage, I can't think of another sports organisation that is providing such a service.
We have, as I said, we have a perfect coverage in all our core markets, and we just are starting to develop the Asian market; and therefore, The European Tour is such a perfect partner and we are really looking forward to develop the partnership even there, as well.
So your question, you know, was difficult economic situation for a lot of companies, but for us, it's really a big opportunity because our business partners and our loyalty partners are looking forward to build up loyalty to their customers and we provide that.¬† And this is‑‑ golf is a perfect communication platform looking at this business.

Q.  Could you give us some indication as to the ballpark value of the deal?  And secondly, how important was The European Tour's leadership on the environmental front to you in terms of making this decision?
MATHIAS VORBACH:  You know, it's very important for Lyoness, when you look at our foundations, we have two foundations.  We have the Child & Family Foundation that is already existing since 2008, and is providing education projects worldwide and building schools and helping children and families worldwide.
And on the other hand, last year, we founded the Greenfinity Foundation, and cooperating with The European Tour is just all about sustainability in golf.  We really try to put our expertise here into the corporation with the initiative of The European Tour, and this is very important to bring in all aspects of our company.
So it is very important to have the security to plan over three years, and so we have a lot of opportunities to build on that.

Q.  And the difficult part of the question, a composite value of the deal?
KEITH WATERS:  I think we are very happy to disclose that over the three years, Lyoness are investing 3.5 million Euro into the various activities.  We have a number of partners that are going to join forces with Lyoness when we create a more formal initiative, it will be called the Green Drive Initiative, which we are going to announce very shortly.
GEORGE O'GRADY:  From our point of view, keeping Austria alive over the seven years when the Bank of Austria left the tournament was very important.
We did an East versus West conference during the event which you hosted and we met all of the Federations from Eastern Europe, which I think the benefit of that is going to be seen over the next few years as we go into developing markets both Turkey, which we have already been to the Czech Republic and all of the other countries in that region.  It's a crossroads of pulling together the Eastern block and traditional Europe, and that's why I think the date, we are still playing the week after The Open, and that's the future.
It comes the week after an Open Championship, which is not the easiest of weeks to get a really strong field, and so this commitment and this confidence for the next three years we see as a very strong step.

Q.¬† How difficult are things?¬† I was listening on the radio, we are in a double‑dip recession; how difficult are things in Europe coming up with sponsors?
GEORGE O'GRADY:  Well, you wouldn't want to be too exposed in the stock market at the moment looking at yesterday.

Q.¬† I bought Facebook ‑‑
GEORGE O'GRADY:  Well I think you're brave to buy Facebook shares, not that I know anything about these short of things.  At least the American market steadied last night.
From our point of view, you have to be aware of the economic situation across Europe, across the rest of the world; while we have taken a position in Korea and China when we get it, there's not much recession out there I might say.  We have strong holds in different markets but we don't lose sight of the home market.  That's why Keith referenced the support we have from BMW in Spain, and I think an announcement is about to come in Italy, as well.
Things have not been simple.  We all read the papers, and we do a lot of partnerships with governments and we can read that that we bring value for money; visibility and value and that makes for a solid partner.
If we go on and when you have one press conference announcing one new partner for the Tour, and it's a question we have worked hard on the sustainability issues.  The Ryder Cup in Ireland was the most sustainable golf tournament of the time in terms of all of the recycling and protecting the environment, and we continue to push that.  Europe has a wide responsibility in that area.  There are a lot of key companies who follow that.
I think we are going to get there in Europe.  BMW are doing very well in most markets in Europe, very well in Britain and it's very strongly run.  It has not been a straightforward period, and announcements like this today help us to face the future with confidence.

Q.  How does losing the Czech Open hinder your progress in the Eastern block that you talked about?
GEORGE O'GRADY:  There's always different reasons why things go down.  It's not ideal.  We are disappointed.  It's a great venue.  It's been a successful tournament, but people who are promoting it come in with different ambitions and different desires and their businesses change.
I think sometimes people underwrite tournaments expecting there to be a flood of new sponsors coming in.  It doesn't always work in different markets.  Everything is timing.  That's why this is real; this is solid, and it's weathered through a couple of tough years, and we have decided that it's worth the Tour having a close association with the event, and we've been rewarded with this partnership today, which we value very highly.
PAUL SYMES:  Thank you, gentlemen.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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