RBC-Heritage pairing makes little sense

It’s hardly surprising that organizers of The Heritage are refuting reports that Royal Bank of Canada is close to signing a deal to sponsor the Lowcountry golf tournament.

Earlier this month, Royal Bank of Canada was the subject of rumors when it was speculated the Toronto-based financial services giant was possibly shopping its US banking operation, composed of 420 branches in the Southeastern US.

Still, Golf World reported Monday that RBC was on the brink of an agreement with The Heritage, citing several unnamed players and sources related to Hilton Head Island’s PGA Tour event, which has been without a title sponsor for about a year and a half.

But the Hilton Head Island Packet reported Tuesday that Wilmot was refuting the report that Royal Bank was close to signing a four-year deal to sponsor the tournament.

Wilmot told the paper that such reports could hurt the tournament if other prospective companies think a deal is done.

Tournament director Steve Wilmot said the Heritage and RBC have engaged in discussions “in the past” but said a deal is not imminent.

Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal and several other publications not only reported that Royal Bank was considering selling off its US operations, but had hired New York-based J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to act as its adviser.

RBC broke into the US market a decade ago but has struggled from the outset, losing $1 billion in 2009 alone. It did manage to turn a profit of $130 million last on its US operations, however.

Certainly there’s been no definitive word on RBC future plans for the Southeast, but given that the company is apparently seriously considering leaving the market, it’s highly unlikely the financial services giant is going to commit to any longterm sponsorship at present.

Unless, that is, it wants to put the kibosh on rumors circulating about it leaving the market.

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