No change after Nextel merger

Nextel, the sponsor of NASCAR's premier championship has confirmed that its commitments to the series will not change in the wake of a $35b merger with rival communications company Sprint

No change after Nextel merger

According to reports, Sprint, the larger company, and its stockholders would control 51 percent of the new company, to be called Sprint Nextel.

In a statement Sprint Nextel confirmed that there will be no changes in presentation or identity through 2005 - NASCAR's top series will remain "Nextel Cup" - but it leaves open what could happen after the merger is concluded later next year.

Nextel agreed in the summer of 2003 to replace long-time backer tobacco company R.J. Reynolds as sponsor of NASCAR's premier Cup series. Nextel and NASCAR worked out a 10-year arrangement worth a reported $700m, and Nextel spent heavily to re-brand the series.

Although Sprint Nextel has indicated that it sees value in NASCAR, all spending within the combined company is expected to come under review. That leaves open questions as to whether the new company would decide to re-brand, giving Sprint at least part of the identity, or whether Nextel's contract with NASCAR would continue to obligate the new company.

"Nextel has invested significant resources throughout 2004 to find ways to enhance the sport and provide a more dynamic fan experience," read the statement. "Nextel expects no rebranding of logos or signage in 2005 and will continue to honour that commitment as series sponsor, and the programmes initiated in 2004 will only continue to evolve.

"We expect our relationship with NASCAR to continue and to prosper, and the new Sprint Nextel team is enthusiastic about the NASCAR relationship. Both groups are focused on building on the success of the Nextel Cup's first year.

"The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2005 and is subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies, approval by various federal and state regulatory agencies, possible foreign governmental approvals and other customary closing conditions."

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