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BUSINESS > GE sells $100 million in equipment for Olympics

LONDON - Reuters

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A light display lights up Tower Bridge in central London to mark the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 27. GE has provided London with lights, power supplies, and medical devices, costing the city approximately $100 billion for the games. REUTERS photo

A light display lights up Tower Bridge in central London to mark the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 27. GE has provided London with lights, power supplies, and medical devices, costing the city approximately $100 billion for the games. REUTERS photo

General Electric sold about $100 million in lights, power supplies and medical devices for the London Olympic Games, less than for Beijing’s massive build-out, but still enough to justify the largest U.S. conglomerate’s sponsorship, officials said yesterday.

Since signing on as a top-level Olympic sponsor in 2005, GE has generated about $1 billion in revenue from selling equipment for the stadiums and athlete villages in Torino, Beijing and Vancouver - with about half that amount coming from China’s 2008 games.

“At the time when Beijing went for the Olympics, they invested a lot. There was just a lot more to be built and developed,” said Beth Comstock, GE’s chief marketing officer. “London has a much more measured approach in terms of infrastructure, but we certainly are happy that we participated.”
The backers of the London games spent about $14 billion in building new Olympic venues and overhauling existing sites, well less than the estimated $40 billion that China spent.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company declined to say how much it paid for its Olympic sponsorship -- Olympic contracts prohibit sponsors from disclosing the amount -- but said the revenue generated from Olympic projects has justified its sponsorship.

“It has been a good return for us,” said Comstock. “It has been easily justifiable, a no-brainer in terms of the return.”

GE’s sponsorship contract runs through 2020. While the world’s largest maker of electric turbines and jet engines no longer owns a majority stake in U.S. Olympic broadcaster NBC Universal -- now majority owned by Comcast Corp -- it is still finding that the sponsorship has paid off, Comstock said.

That is largely because the Olympics gives it a chance to show off its ability to sell into large-scale projects. GE has made a practice of pitching its wares directly to governments in emerging markets, from Saudi Arabia to China, for large-scale infrastructure projects like power plants and water purification systems, Comstock said.

July/31/2012

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