GE doing business in Sochi, targets another $1B in Olympic sales

GE has sold two gas turbines to be used to power the Sochi Games, and the company is optimistic that sales from the 2014 and 2016 Olympics will compare favorably with the more than $1 billion in sales it amassed over the last four Olympics.

“Both markets are key growth areas,” said Chris Katsuleres, director of Olympic marketing and sports programs at GE. “We believe there are real opportunities.”
In China, GE was able to do about $700 million in sales as a result of the Beijing Games. A return to two more developing countries — Brazil and Russia — could offer similar sales success. GE set up sales teams in Sochi and Rio after it decided to renew its International Olympic Committee sponsorship a little over a year ago.

The company has been a member of the IOC’s The Olympic Partner (TOP) program since 2005, a deal that costs approximately $100 million over four years. It has used its Olympic sponsorship to make its energy, health care and water treatment products the first choice for Olympic host cities looking to improve their infrastructure before hosting a Games.

It sees opportunities to sell products from all three areas in Sochi and Rio, Katsuleres said. Both cities are undertaking major infrastructure projects ahead of the Olympics. Russia is building a new city along the coast to host the 2014 Olympics, and Rio is planning to overhaul its transportation system before the 2016 Olympics.

Katsuleres said he believes GE can sell more energy products, like the biogas engines powering London’s Olympic Park, health care products like its CT scanners, and water treatment solutions.

He said the sales team got a late start in Sochi, but the team in Rio has plenty of time to work with organizers and government officials to determine what products they need.

“We’re getting a sense of the opportunity in Pyeongchang (host of the 2018 Winter Games) now, too,” Katsuleres said.

GE is hosting fewer guests during the London Games than it did in Beijing. The company hosted close to 2,500 guests during the 2008 Olympics. It’s only hosting around 1,000 guests in London.

Katsuleres expects that number to increase back to Beijing levels during the Rio Games because it’s a market that many people haven’t visited.

“Just like China, there will be a lot of anticipation for those Games and that will drive demand for us,” Katsuleres said.

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