Raiffeisen International will be Official Sponsor of the 2007 IIHF World Championship in Russia

"Due to our leading role in Central and Eastern Europe and our No-1 position as western banking group in the CIS, ice hockey is a perfect match for us," said Michael Palzer, in charge of Communications (PR and Marketing) at Raiffeisen International. Ice hockey is very popular in most countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), and some of the best national teams stem from the region. "We reckon that the association of ice hockey with the Raiffeisen brand will be well-perceived by both our existing and potential customers. It will further boost the Raiffeisen brand's high level of awareness among corporate and retail clients," Palzer added.

Pavel Gourine, Deputy CEO of ZAO Raiffeisenbank Austria, values the project as a significant support in the bank's home market, "Ice hockey is traditionally a game that hardly leaves anybody impartial and is highly enjoyed across Russia. Following the acquisition of Impexbank by Raiffeisen International, the merged bank aims at increasing above all business on a federal level. Raiffeisen had before focused on Moscow and eight more regions, whereas now, sponsoring the championship will significantly increase our brand awareness also in the regions where Impexbank is represented."

Focusing on private customers

With more than 11 million private customers in CEE and an increase of over 100,000 new customers per month, Raiffeisen International is the region's fastest-growing banking group. Against this background, the commitment with its wide appeal was considered to be very sensible by Raiffeisen International. The group aims at expanding this customer base fast above all in Russia, where it currently services over 900,000 private individuals. As of 30 June 2006, Raiffeisenbank and Impexbank operated 36 and 204 branches, respectively. Almost two weeks ago it was decided to name the new bank – to be merged in the second half of 2007 – ZAO Raiffeisenbank Austria, too. Due to this fact and with a view to maximising regional synergies for Raiffeisen International's subsidiary banks regarding advertising effect, the sponsoring will use the brand "Raiffeisenbank".

Largest sports event in Russia for the next years

As the IIHF confirmed, the World Championship will be the largest sports event in Russia since the Olympic Games of 1980 and will continue to be for the next years. More than 700 million viewers in over 50 countries traditionally follow the TV-broadcasts. "We are very happy to have found a sponsor with such a strong regional interest," said Kimmo Leinonen, Marketing Director of the IIHF. Raiffeisen International is one of the championship's most important sponsors after Czech car manufacturer and Official Main Sponsor Skoda. The group will be present via two perimeter ads and will be in charge of the staff's clothes in addition to customary sponsorship privileges.

The agreement has been negotiated by Infront Sports & Media, the exclusive commercial partner of the IIHF. Philippe Blatter, President and CEO of Infront, said, "We are delighted about the new relationship between IIHF and Raiffeisen International as of one of Europe's top banking groups. It is also an important achievement for Infront, as we seek to further strengthen the awareness and the marketing profile of the sponsoring property and the sport as part of our commitment to the IIHF and all commercial partners."

The championship will take place between 27 April and 13 May 2007 in Moscow; Russia will be host for the sixth time after 1957, 1973, 1979, 1986 and 2000. The two stadiums in Mytischi and Khodynka have a capacity of approximately 7,000 and 14,000 respectively. Besides Russia, the following nations with Raiffeisen International subsidiary banks will participate: Belarus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine. In addition, the Austrian national team qualified for the tournament. The next IIHF World Championships will be held in Canada (2008), Switzerland (2009), Germany (2010) and Slovakia (2011).

You can download a printable photo from the press-conference from http://www.rzbfiles.at/pressconference.jpg. From left: Michael Palzer, Pavel Gourine, Kimmo Leinonen and Christoph Mauer (Vice President Marketing & Sales, Infront).

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Raiffeisen International operates one of the leading banking networks in CEE with subsidiary banks and leasing companies in 16 markets. More than 11 million customers are attended to through more than 2,700 business outlets. Representative offices in Lithuania and Moldova complement the Group's presence in the region. Raiffeisen International is a fully consolidated subsidiary of Raiffeisen Zentralbank ├ľsterreich AG (RZB), which owns 70 per cent of the common stock. The remaining 30 per cent is free float, the shares are traded on the Vienna Stock Exchange. RZB is a leading corporate and investment bank in Austria and the central institution of the Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, the country's largest banking group.

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