Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG, a member of the RZB Group headed by Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG, will participate in the 73rd World Championship of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in Switzerland as Official Sponsor. Raiffeisen International therefore continues the successful partnership that started with the World Championship 2007 in Moscow. The event will take place from 24 April through 10 May in Zurich-Kloten and Berne.
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. This is a natural match with Raiffeisen International, which covers the region with the largest banking network of any foreign banking group. Out of the group's 17 covered markets, Russia (the current champion), Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia will participate. Austria's national team will compete as well.
«We know from our previous commitment that the association of ice hockey with the Raiffeisen brand in Central and Eastern Europe is well-perceived by both existing and potential customers. This is an excellent opportunity to further strengthen our brand recognition and value, especially in times when marketing volumes generally go down», said Raiffeisen International CEO Herbert Stepic.
For Switzerland, the IIHF World Championship will be the biggest sports event in 2009. Over 300,000 spectators are expected to attend — and another estimated 600 million will be watching on TV, with 75 television stations broadcasting over 3,400 hours of world-class ice hockey. The next IIHF World Championships will be held in Germany (2010) and Slovakia (2011).
Raiffeisen International operates one of the largest banking networks in CEE, covering 17 markets across the region through subsidiary banks, leasing companies and a range of other financial service providers. The group's more than 63,000 employees service over 14.7 million customers via more than 3,200 business outlets. Raiffeisen International is a fully-consolidated subsidiary of Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG (RZB), which owns about 70 per cent of the common stock. The remainder is in free float, with the shares listed 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.