Lenovo wins Olympic Games deal

China's top computer maker expands its international push with an agreement to provide machines to the Winter Olympics in 2006 and Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

China's top computer maker, the Lenovo Group, has sealed an exclusive sponsorship deal for the Olympic Games.

Under the arrangement labeled The Olympic Partner (TOP) program, Lenovo will provide computer equipment for the Winter Olympics to be held in Turin, Italy, in 2006 and the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

The Beijing-based company will sponsor equipment such as desktops, laptops, servers and printers. In addition, it will provide funding and technical support for both events, the company said.

In return for its participation, Lenovo stands to receive exclusive perks, such as the ability to use the intellectual property of the Olympic Games, which typically includes the official logo and mascot, for its own marketing efforts.

According to Mary Ma, Lenovo's chief financial officer, the company has not firmed up its overseas marketing strategies. However, she said it has already set up sales and marketing units in Italy, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Lenovo has long been a local hero in China's booming PC market. It is currently Asia's top PC maker, thanks to thriving demand in the country. Hoping to go beyond local shores, the company has unveiled ambitious plans for international expansion, and the new Olympics sponsorship coup could help in its quest.

Last year, Lenovo changed its name from Legend to Lenovo for overseas markets, because the former moniker has been registered by a number of companies outside China.

Ma previously said she hopes to quadruple Lenovo's overseas sales to 20 percent of its annual revenue in five years, from less than 5 percent today.

Apart from Lenovo, other partners in the TOP program include Coca-Cola, outsourcing consultancy Atos Origin, General Electric, John Hancock, Kodak, McDonald's, Panasonic, Samsung, Swatch and Visa.

Wang Dan of ZDNet China reported from Beijing. Winston Chai of CNETAsia, who reported from Singapore, contributed to this report.

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