Microsoft Pursuing Partial Title Sponsorship Of Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Microsoft Founder Bill Gates' "sudden attachment to Spain is not just his 6% investment" in Spanish construction company FCC, according to Agustín Marco of EL CONFIDENCIAL. Sources "close to Real Madrid" indicated that Microsoft is "negotiating to put its name on Real's Santiago Bernabéu stadium." Conversations "are in the preliminary phase" because Real Madrid President Florentino Perez "will not make a decision on the stadium's new sponsor until the start of 2014." In "dealing with a very sentimental and delicate decision for fans, Perez wants to be detailed in analyzing the choices to avoid staining the name of Santiago Bernabéu, the former team chairman who is considered the best leader in the club's history." The relationship between Microsoft and Real Madrid "is already very close, as the two collaborate on improving education through sport and technology in several Latin American and Caribbean countries." Perez said, "Microsoft is a world leader. Bill Gates is an example of generosity, and the company's philosophy is in many ways similar to what inspires 'Madridismo.' We now work together for a more fair world with more solidarity." The "cost for a company to add its name to the Santiago Bernabéu will be very high based on other stadium sponsorship agreements involving top European clubs." Real Madrid has "several other options that could add their name to the Bernabéu, including Emirates airline" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 10/25).
GATES INVESTS IN FCC: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Román & Bjork reported that Gates paid $148.4M for "a nearly 6% stake" in FCC last week. It was "the latest of several deals showing that long-depressed Spain is back on the global investment map." Gates' investment makes him FCC's second-largest shareholder in a company that "employs 80,000 people in 56 countries but derives just under half of its revenue from Spain." Gates is "following in the footsteps of tycoons including Warren Buffett and Carlos Slim, who have recently picked up Spanish assets on the cheap, betting that Spain is turning a corner after a grinding six-year downturn." Spanish Industry Minister José Manuel Soria said that Gates' investment, while "modest in monetary terms, demonstrates a symbolically significant increase in the 'trust and credibility' in Spain among foreign investors." Spanish investment firm Arcano partner Ignacio de la Torre said that with FCC, Gates is placing a bet on "the conservative government's recent policy initiatives to jump-start Spain's economy by making it easier to launch companies as well as hire and fire employees" (WSJ, 10/22).