APF joins the Infront Group
Zug, Switzerland/Vienna Austria — Infront Sports & Media have acquired a majority shareholding in the Austrian sports marketing agency, APF Marketing Services GmbH, Vienna.
APF are one of the leading companies in the marketing of winter sports and the acquisition reflects Infront's desire to further strengthen their position in this sector of the sports rights and sponsor services market.
APF hold the marketing rights to the biennial FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, starting with the 2007 events in Are (Sweden) and Sapporo (Japan) and continuing with the 2009 events in Val d'Isere (France) and Liberec (Czech Republic). These are the most prestigious events on the skiing calendar, outside of the Winter Olympics.
The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships cover the disciplines of Ski Jumping, Cross Country and Nordic Combined. The events dovetail with Infront's expansion in the Nordic region and the winter sports activities of Infront Finland OY and Infront Sweden AB, also the result of recent strategic acquisitions.
In addition to their impressive ski portfolio which also encompass the title and presenting sponsorships of the FIS World Cups in the nordic disciplines APF also hold the major marketing rights of the IBU World Cup Biathlon including the yearly World Championships.
APF also share important long term business with other parties, including the Austrian Soccer Federation (ÖFB), the Austrian public broadcaster ORF and the Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC).
This move will confirm Infront's strong position in winter sports, where we already have impressively long-standing relationships with winter sport federations such as the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Austrian Ski Federation," said Infront CEO Oscar Frei. "We will be able to add value for all the business partners we work with, using our expanding network of offices and contacts which we have strengthened again with the newly acquired Austrian operation in the core of the growing EU and there will be great synergy with our Nordic operation, which is also growing vigorously."
Volker Schmid and Stefan Seykora, co-Managing Directors, will remain as the senior management of APF and will hold the remaining minority stake in the company. This will ensure continuity of experience and maintain APF's excellent relationships with its key clients. APF will begin to market itself as 'an Infront Group company' right away, with plans to intensify its traditional Austrian business ties in the new EU member countries and to integrate with Infront's full branding and network as soon as is feasible.
The deal has elevated Infront to a leading position in the marketing of winter sports. Infront will now be playing a major role in the marketing of six winter sports, including the world championships of alpine and nordic skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, luge and bobsleigh. The portfolio of rights from its nordic operations will further enhance its prominence in this area.
We have known the APF management for many years and respect the company and its achievements," said Oscar Frei. "It is a first class organisation, with a strong rights portfolio and client network that offers an excellent strategic fit with our long-term plans."
Volker Schmid, the original founder of APF, added: "It is exciting to be part of the Infront Group. This is an imaginative and forward-looking organisation, which is breaking out of the traditional pattern of sports marketing and finding the right solutions for sports federations, broadcasters and sponsors in a fast-changing industry."