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America's Cup- Italian Challenger 'invites' Prada sponsorship of E40m

by Richard Gladwell on 20 Oct 2011
The crew of Luna Rossa after the Louis Vuitton Cup Final Day 5 BMW Oracle Racing © Photo Gilles Martin-Raget http://www.bmworacleracing.com

An announcement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has triggered further speculation that the Italian based Luna Rossa team will make a late entry for the 34th America's Cup.

In the notice filed with the exchange Prada SA has advised that it has been 'invited' to come in as a sponsor of the the Luna Rossa team.

The amount involved in the sponsorship agreement is Euro 40million which is a good starting platform for a development of an AC72 class catamaran required for the 34th America's Cup.

If approved, the sponsorship will be paid in installments over a 21 month period.

The reason for the announcement is that there is a possible conflict of interest between the Patron of Luna Rossa, the ebullient Patrizio Bertelli and his role as CEO of Prada. His wife Miuccia Prada Bianci is President of Prada. The decision to accept the invitation to become a sponsor will be made by the Board of Prada SA.

Luna Rossa have been competing in the Extreme Sailing Series, sailing Extreme 40's. Patrizio Bertelli initially declared he was not interested in entering his team for their fourth America's Cup, however clearly changes that have been made to the rules have made the event more attractive.

It was also announced separately that there will be an America's Cup World Series Event staged in Naples in April 2012, and a second event is expected to be held there in 2013. The ACWS will also hold an event in a second Italian venue, Venice in May 2012, with a second said to be promised for 2013, giving Italy four events in the ACWS with just one unannounced entry in the regatta.

Luna Rossa contested the 2000, 2003 and 2007 Louis Vuitton Cups. Their best performance was in 2000, when they became the Challenger in Team New Zealand's first Defence, in Auckland.

Currently there are eight teams entered in the 34th America's Cup. Only four or five are expected to be able to generate sufficient sponsorship to commit to an AC72 program and be on the starting line for the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup in July 2013 in San Francisco. The addition of Luna Rossa with a Prada sponsorship would tick both columns of the ACWS and America's Cup ledger.

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