Monday, May 19, 2014

As Barclays trims operations and reviews sponsorship deals, could Brooklyn arena naming rights be transferred?

Could the name Barclays Center be temporary, and not last the 20-year tenure of the $200+ million naming rights deal the British bank signed with arena developer Forest City Ratner?

Any answer is speculative, but the question's worth asking since Barclays has made dramatic moves to cut costs and business operations, and in doing so is re-evaluating its many sponsorships.

(The Brooklyn arena has not been specifically mentioned as a target, but as we know, Atlantic Yards is full of surprises: who expected the Russian oligarch, the Chinese government-owned investment group, or the EB-5 investments?)

Barclays has already announced plans to end its sponsorship of London's bike-hire program and is considering not renewing its sponsorship of a major soccer league in the U.K.

The Barclays Center name certainly helped put Barclays on the map in America, but it hasn't done much for overall business growth and profits. The United States remains a key business location for Barclays' work in investment banking, not retail banking, with the latter presumably a stronger argument for promotion.

The Brooklyn deal was the brainchild of now-departed Chief Executive Bob Diamond. Heck, the Barclays logo on the arena roof should be covered by green in the next year.

What about a transfer?

If Barclays leaves its Brooklyn sponsorship before the 20 years is up, that would be more complicated than not renewing a contract. The naming rights would have to be transferred to a new buyer, a not-uncommon occurrence in the world of sports facilities that is surely contemplated in the contract.

Could that might mean a loss for Barclays, given that it paid a large sum--though not as large as the $300-$400 million in initially reported--to make a big splash? I don't know.

Or, given that the Brooklyn arena is quite busy and is located in the world's media capital, maybe Barclays could make a profit. The arrival of the hockey Islanders in the fall of 2015 might be a good time for an arena reboot.

If so, a name change would require some rejiggering of Brooklynites'--nay, New Yorkers'--mental maps, given that the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street station saw its name changed to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. (The payment in that case was by the arena developer, Forest City, not by the bank.)

Barclays stepping back, January edition

The U.K. Telegraph reported 1/25/14:
Barclays is considering ending its £40m-a-year [$67.37 million USD] sponsorship of the Premier League after senior figures at the bank said it had “zero value” in the UK.
The bank’s present deal runs until the end of the 2015-16 football season and members of Barclays’ leadership team are concerned that rapid price inflation for sports rights will mean a much higher amount will be demanded by the Premier League for the next three-year deal.
One reason the deal was said to have little value is that the Barclays name is well-known in the UK. It's far less known in the United States, which is why Diamond, upon announcing the Brooklyn deal in 2007, said, "Building our brand in the U.S. is very, very important to us."

The Wall Street Journal reported 1/26/14:
Barclays PLC may end its long-running relationship with the English Premier League when its current sponsorship deal expires in 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter
The British bank is weighing its options for the world renowned soccer league amid a broader review of its sponsorship of high profile events, which include the tennis ATP World Tour Finals in London and the Barclays Center in New York.
The outcome of the general sponsorship review is ongoing and no definitive decision has been made, according to a person familiar with the matter....
Several of these flagship sponsorship deals were brokered under former chief executive Robert Diamond as the bank sought to raise its profile both in the U.K. and abroad.
Barclays stepping back, May edition

After Years of Ambitious Growth, Barclays Seeks to Be Leaner, the New York Times reported 5/9/14:
The British bank announced on Thursday plans to take an ax to its investment banking business — which has major operations in New York as well as London and Asia — by slashing half of its capital and more than a quarter of its work force, or 7,000 jobs.
Instead, Barclays will focus on four core areas: retail and corporate banking, primarily in Britain; credit cards; banking in Africa; and, to a lesser extent, investment banking.
...The overhaul represents a turnaround from the empire-building ambitions of Robert E. Diamond Jr., the bank’s previous chief executive. Mr. Diamond, a former bond trader at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston, aggressively built a global banking franchise after joining Barclays in 1996, culminating in the 2008 acquisition of the bulk of Lehman Brothers’ investment banking operations.
But in the last few years, embarrassing regulatory investigations and penalties, combined with capital shortfalls and lackluster returns, have cast a cloud over what was once the swashbuckling and money-minting side of the bank and led to the 2012 ouster of Mr. Diamond after just 18 months as chief executive.
Here's the key paragraph:
[Diamond] had infused the bank with American-style bravado, attaching the Barclays’ brand to the public bicycle rental system in London and the home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. (The bank will drop its sponsorship of the London bike program next year and is evaluating its other sponsorships.)
Promotion in U.S. needed?

Reuters noted:
Barclays' investment bank will concentrate on its core markets of the United States and the UK and the top 1,000 clients who generated more than three quarters of revenue last year.
Is that enough to keep a high-profile presence in Brooklyn? Unclear. 

Barclays has no street-level retail banking operation in the United States, though it does offer online accounts and credit cards.

Barclays sponsorships

Barclays has a significant number of sponsorships, including Sports, Entertainment, Arts & Culture, and Travel. Two categories are shown in screenshots below.



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