TCS likely new sponsor of Rs 30-crore Mumbai Marathon

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Tata Consultancy Services is likely to step in as the new title sponsor of the Mumbai Marathon, one of Asia’s largest and richest running races. India’s leading software exporter is expected to replace Standard Chartered Bank, which has sponsored the marathon for 13 years, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

A formal agreement between TCS and Procam International, owners of the Mumbai Marathon, is still being worked out. If the deal happens, this will be the third marathon for which TCS will be the title sponsor. It is currently the main sponsor of the New York City Marathon, the largest in the world, and Amsterdam Marathon. TCS’ parent Tata Sons may also beat a part of the Mumbai Marathon whose annual sponsorship cost is Rs 30 crore.

Sources said Standard Chartered has already informed Procam about its exit plans, prompting the latter to approach TCS, an associate sponsor till now, to be the event’s main sponsor. Financial woes have prompted the London-based lender, which gets most of its business from emerging markets, to consider pulling out from the sponsorship deal for the run, they added.

The Mumbai Marathon’s prize money of $384,000 (Rs 25.5 crore approx) is one of the highest awards in marathon globally. TCS, Standard Chartered and Procam have not made any official comment on this.

Marathon is a key sporting platform that TCS has been associated with to build its brand image, largely because the CEO-turned-chairman N Chandrasekaran has been the company’s face in several marathons in India and abroad. Mr Chandrasekaran, who started running at 44 years following health concerns, has run several full and half marathons over the years in Mumbai, Boston, Berlin, New York and Chicago.

He had earlier said that sponsoring marathons is not a marketing activity for TCS, but an avenue to spread the importance of fitness for a company with a large, relatively young workforce. Last month, Mr Chandrasekaran was named as the Tata Group chairman, triggering murmurs about India’s largest private conglomerate stepping up sporting investments, where peers like Reliance Industries have made big moves in recent years.

The $103 billion group’s involvement with sports has been relatively low profile in an era of big corporate investments changing the face of sporting activities. Besides the marathon, Tata group’s only other sports involvement in India is with badminton currently, though Jaguar Land Rover sponsors rugby championships in the United Kingdom.

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