x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Falcon swoops over Formula One

Falcon Private Bank strikes a deal to sponsor the Toro Rosso F1 team, in a bid to bring its brand to wider acclaim among the sport's affluent spectators.

Falcon Private Bank joins a handful of Abu Dhabi companies that have their names appearing on Formula One cars.
Falcon Private Bank joins a handful of Abu Dhabi companies that have their names appearing on Formula One cars.

As the racing cars of the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One team scream around the Grand Prix track in Barcelona today, spectators will see a name on the nose cone that is gaining a reputation among the UAE's super-rich.

Falcon Private Bank, a Swiss lender fully owned by Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments, has signed a sponsorship agreement with the team which will see its name emblazoned on the racing livery of the team's cars and drivers until at least the end of the current season.

"The Falcon Private Bank sponsor logo will be visible on the Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi's and Spanish driver Jaime Alguersuari's … car fronts, as well as both the front wing right and left end-plates during the 2011 season," the bank said, without disclosing how much had been paid for the sponsorship.

The idea is "to raise Falcon Private Bank's brand awareness on a global communication platform that covers all of the bank's core markets, while delivering a fine brand experience for top clients and (ultra) high net-worth prospects", a spokeswoman for the bank said.

Falcon Private Bank joins a handful of Abu Dhabi companies that have tried to raise the emirate's profile by sponsoring F1.

The bank, formerly known as AIG Private Bank, was bought from the crippled US insurance giant AIG by Aabar Investments in 2009 for 288 million Swiss francs (Dh1.2 billion).

The bank seeks to target individuals with a minimum wealth of US$5m (Dh18.3m). Falcon Private Bank, which has $13bn of assets under management worldwide, hopes to increase the $600m of assets it has in the UAE to more than $1bn by the end of the year.

It opened a branch in Abu Dhabi last month, joining its existing branches in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Geneva. Part of Abu Dhabi's Vision 2030 plan calls for the development of the emirate's financial services sector.

F1 is a perfect fit for an institution such as Falcon Private Bank and should help to raise its profile, according to Bashar Abdulkarim, the managing director at Relay MENA, a sports marketing agency.

Providing five-star treatment such as gold passes and VIP boxes for clients had reaped dividends for a number of banks sponsoring the sport, Mr Abdulkarim said.

"In terms of the Abu Dhabi F1 industry, most of the activities are targeting high-end groups," he said. "If they get about 10 to 15 clients on each race, that's a lot of opportunities for business-class engagements for these kinds of banks."

Aabar Investments' logo appears on this season's Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One team cars, following its joint acquisition with Daimler of a 75 per cent stake in the Brawn GP team, as it was previously known.

Etihad Airways and Aldar Properties sponsored the short-lived Spyker F1 team in 2007, until its sale and rebranding as Force India F1.

Etihad and Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, have also lent their names to the sides of the Ferrari F1 racing cars in the past.

ghunter@thenational.ae