Lenovo to end Olympic sponsorship after 2008

BEIJING, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Lenovo 0992.HK, China's top computer maker, said it will end its global sponsorship of the Olympic Games after the Beijing Games next year.

“The company’s marketing strategy is evolving to pinpoint opportunities that serve strategic needs in targeted geographies,” said a statement on the company’s Web site.

Lenovo, which is battling Taiwan's Acer Inc 2353.TW as the world's No. 3 PC maker, was the first Chinese company to be a global sponsor of the Olympics. The company's sponsorship included the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and the upcoming Beijing Summer Games.

Global sponsorships offer companies exclusive rights to market their brand, but come at great cost.

In the 2001-2004 period, covering one Winter Games and one Summer Games, the International Olympic Committee received more than $4 billion in revenues, a third of which came from corporate sponsors. And the cost is rising.

Adidas ADSG.DE has said it will pay about $200 million as a Beijing sponsor, one rung below a global sponsor. The sports apparel maker can use the Olympic logo in marketing campaigns only in China.

Lenovo's 0992.HK net profit nearly tripled to $105 million in the latest quarter, but analysts fear price competition with Acer, Hewlett Packard HPQ.N and Dell DELL.O will hold margins back in 2008.

(US$=7.40 yuan)

Reporting by Kirby Chien, Editing by Ken Wills