HSBC is considering ending its sponsorship of its flagship golf tournament, the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, as the contract expires this year, a senior official told AFP.

HSBC global head of sponsorship Giles Morgan said the British bank was currently evaluating its association with the $8.5 million event, one of four World Golf Championships (WGC) held worldwide.

Morgan added that sponsorship of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, one of the US LPGA tournaments played in Asia, was also under review.

“This is our last year of our golf portfolio, so we are in discussions with everybody,” Morgan said on the sidelines of the Sports Matters industry conference in Singapore.

“We’ll make announcements when we’ve decided and figured (it) out. Contracts come to an end. So you then have to go through a process of doing quite a lot of analysis about has it worked, are we getting what we want, are they getting what they want? Is the partnership working? 

“And then we sit down in a room and make decisions. We’re in the middle of that process right now.”

The HSBC Champions has been a highlight of the Asian golfing calendar since it debuted in 2005, before joining the four-stop World Golf Championships series in 2009.

The next WGC-HSBC Champions in November will be the 10th edition at Shanghai’s Sheshan golf club. It has also been held at Mission Hills in Guangdong, southern China.

The World Golf Championships are among the most prestigious tournaments in the golfing calendar. Winners in China include Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

Morgan said that HSBC’s sponsorship of the Women’s Champions was “all part of the same conversation”. He did not offer a timetable for any announcements.

The bank also sponsors the British Open and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

“At the moment we’re really focusing on the (Shanghai) tournament because it’s looming up fast, (it’s a) World Golf Championship and it’s been such a good year for this new generation of golfers,” he said.

The uncertain picture for golf comes after HSBC was hit with hefty fines over money-laundering in Switzerland and foreign exchange manipulation in Britain.

“It was our turn to face quite a lot of short-pitched bowling,” Morgan said. 

However, HSBC has also become the main sponsor of the rugby sevens world series, with new stops coming up in Singapore, Sydney, Paris and Vancouver, ahead of the sport‘s inclusion in next year’s Olympics.

“I think it’s an exciting time. Rugby sevens probably is the form of the game which will allow rugby to go global more quickly,” Morgan said. – Agence France-Presse

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