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Marconi and Nortel forced to pull out of Formula One

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Marconi and Nortel Networks are being forced out of Formula One sponsorship next season thanks to dire results this year.

Marconi has gone from being one of the UK's leading companies to a burnt-out shell, with its share price now living in the telecoms toilet bowl at 16.6p from 950p just a year ago (over 1200p in August 2000). The chief exec, chairman and deputy chief exec have all been kicked out.

Nortel, which exists in the same telecoms markets as Marconi, has also seen a calamitous fall in its value. Just last week, it warned of even deeper losses of $3.6 billion on revenues of $3.5 billion. That's not good.

All this means that the directors can no longer enjoy fatcat sponsorship of Formula One racing cars and the Benetton-Renault and BMW Williams teams will have to find some new companies to support them.

Neither company will say how much it paid in sponsorship each year, but the lovely Suzy Jagger in the Mirror City column reckons it's anything between £7 million and £25 million.

In return for this money, both companies get entry for a number of guests at each Grand Prix in a special VIP area as well as limited access to the drivers for promotion. Oh, and their icons are put on the cars that whizz round the track in front of millions of TV viewers.

Nortel has a prominent position on the front of the driver's helmet and the front wing of the car for BMW Williams (third in the constructors championship), which doesn't come cheap. Marconi on the other hand has the side of the Benetton cockpit to plaster its logo. Benetton is languishing in seventh place above Jaguar, Prost and Arrows. ®

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