SCUTTLEBUTT EXTRA - July 30, 2004
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WHO'D HAVE THUNK IT?
Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli has dipped into his own pocket to make sure
New Zealand gets to the America's Cup. The Herald can reveal that the Swiss
billionaire, Team New Zealand's arch-rival, propped up the start of their
campaign with a significant amount of money.
Last night, Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said a
deal had been struck, but it was a "no strings attached" loan which would
be repaid. The loan is believed to be for millions of dollars. Dalton would
not say how big the loan was, but when asked if it was in the tens of
millions of dollars, he said: "Well, there wouldn't be much point doing it
for $100, would there?"
The Herald understands that Bertarelli - the man who poached, then sacked,
Russell Coutts - was worried the 2007 regatta in Valencia would not draw
enough quality syndicates. He wanted the New Zealanders to be there to pep
up the racing and ensure that Europe's first hosting of the America's Cup
was a success.
Dalton said the money was a loan from Bertarelli personally and was not
connected with the Alinghi sailing team or AC Management, the company
organizing the regatta. "It's a no-strings-attached deal, which means it's
a money deal," he said. "He has no involvement in any shape or form in
Emirates Team New Zealand. It's a complete arm's-length deal." Dalton said
he had approached Bertarelli because they were old friends, and he was
grateful for his help.
Team New Zealand needs about $140 million to $160 million (NZ Dollars) for
a serious cup challenge. Dalton is not revealing specific sponsorship
amounts from Emirates or Team NZ's second-tier sponsor, Toyota New Zealand,
but said both knew about the loan. The loan was on top of the $60 million
commercial sponsorship needed to confirm Government backing of nearly $34
million. America's Cup Minister Trevor Mallard could not be contacted for
comment last night. But it is clear the Government believes the return of
the cup would be good for the New Zealand economy. Mr Mallard said last
year that the 2000 and 2003 events had generated about $1 billion.
Ernesto Bertarelli could not be contacted last night. - Excerpts from a
story by Catherine Masters, New Zealand Herald, full story: