Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Govt putting in $5m for NZ's next America's Cup bid

Emirates Team New Zealand.
Emirates Team New Zealand.

More than half of Team New Zealand's 110 employees will be out of a job despite the Government offering interim funding to keep the syndicate afloat until May next year.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce yesterday announced the Government will give $5 million to help the team retain key personnel for the next America's Cup challenge.

Team NZ's future hinged on securing the bridging funding. Without it, the syndicate would probably have had to shut its doors.

There is no certainty yet about the timing and venue of the next event, what class of boat it will be sailed in, or the number of other challengers - and therefore what other markets potential sponsors will be exposed to - and Team NZ had little hope of attracting any commercial sponsors until these key elements of the regatta are nailed down.

Chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge said the Government cash had bought the team time, allowing them to start "talking to and retaining key people" while they await details of the next event, expected to be announced by defenders Oracle Team USA early next year.

But the investment enables them to keep only about 40 per cent of their staff, and Mr Shoebridge, managing director Grant Dalton and skipper Dean Barker now have some tough decisions to make over where to commit the money.

"It's a very difficult thing to do because there were 110 people in our team in San Francisco and every single one of them was important," Mr Shoebridge said.

Team NZ will not finalise its involvement in the 35th edition of the cup regatta until it knows what shape the event will take.

Mr Joyce said future funding would probably be on a similar basis to last time, when the Government contributed one-third of the total funding. That came to $36 million.

The $5 million would be written off if Team NZ did not mount a challenge. It was less than the $6.5 million Team NZ had wanted in short-term funding, and it had agreed to try to make up the shortfall elsewhere.

Mr Joyce said it was a tricky time as other syndicates started sniffing around and delaying would give other challengers a head start in areas such as sponsorships.

It was up to Team NZ to work out who its sponsors would be, and the Government would not have a veto over those.

The Government did not intend to use its shareholding to try to influence companies such as Air New Zealand to chip in, Mr Joyce said.

An Emirates representative told the Herald: "No consideration has been given to [sponsorship] at this point."

Nespresso's NZ manager Guillaume Chesneau said decisions were yet to be made about sponsoring the team again.

Team NZ

* $5 million in Govt interim funding.

* Team NZ asked for $6.5 million.

* Investment means only 40 per cent of 110 employees can be kept.

* Govt paid a third of the total funding raised in last campaign. That came to $36 million.

- NZ Herald

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