Louis Vuitton seeking refund on America’s Cup deal – report

Major America’s Cup sponsor Louis Vuitton is seeking a refund on some of its investment in the 2013 edition of the sailing showpiece due to the low number of competing teams, according to the San Francisco Business Times newspaper.

The 2013 America’s Cup is underway in the US city through the Louis Vuitton Cup, a round-robin playoff to decide which team will ultimately sail against Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup Finals from September 7-21.

The French fashion house has backed the America’s Cup for 30 years and is an official partner of the 2013 event. The company sits alongside Puma, Lexus, Kaiser Permanente and Charles Schwab on the second tier of the America’s Cup commercial portfolio.

Louis Vuitton’s initial sponsorship was said to be worth $10m (€7.7m), with the contract based on at least eight teams taking part in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

However, only Italy’s Luna Rossa, Sweden’s Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand are competing. Louis Vuitton is entitled to a $1m refund for each team less than six that participate, according to an America’s Cup source. That would mean the company is entitled to recoup $3m.

The opening week of the Louis Vuitton Cup has been further hit by a rule dispute that has seen Luna Rossa sit on the sidelines. Bruno Trouble, a former America’s Cup sailor for France who is Louis Vuitton’s ambassador to the America’s Cup, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper: “There were no provisions for anything less than five (boats) because we did not expect that would happen. It is worse than we thought.”

Louis Vuitton is expected to continue its deal with the America’s Cup, but at a reduced rate. “We have a deal,” Trouble added. “We are committed to this event, we are not happy, but we are committed.”