Vorsprung durch sponsorship, as they say in Germany / © AFP
German high-end car giant BMW said Saturday it had dropped plans to sponsor its hometown football team Bayern Munich, with rival Audi successfully fending off the bid to crowd it out.
"We have ended the talks and will not become sponsors of FC Bayern," a spokesman told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) weekly.
News of the deal falling through came shortly before Bayern secured their seventh successive Bundesliga title with a 5-1 win against Eintracht Frankfurt at home in the Allianz Arena.
Bayern chief Uli Hoeness had said in March that the German juggernauts had signed a memorandum of understanding with BMW for the carmaker to sponsor both their football and basketball teams.
But according to the paper, Audi boss Bram Schot would not be budged from the Volkswagen subsidiary's contract to sponsor Bayern until 2025, offering the club massively improved terms.
With payments of 60 million euros ($67 million) a year plus other elements of the deal adding up to more than one billion over a 12-year period, a competing offer would have been "indefensible from a business point of view" for BMW, FAS reported.
The group, which builds Mini and Rolls-Royce cars alongside its flagship brand, reported a 74.2-percent slump in profits to 588 million euros in the first quarter of 2019.
It had to set aside 1.4 billion euros for a possible cartel fine and is also ploughing investments into future technologies like autonomous driving and electric cars.
Earnings at Audi also fell back between January and March, although less dramatically.