Santander to sponsor Boris Bikes for £50m?
London's Boris Bikes are being deserted by Barclays and now, all set to be sponsored by Santander, who will be throwing £50m at the enterprise in a long-term deal.
They're obviously trying to win some hearts and minds, after they recently announced that they were putting another £20m aside for PPI mis-selling, and providing money for London's cycling scheme might be just the thing for them.
They're inevitably hoping that everyone will start calling them Santander Cycles, but then, no-one called them Barclays Bikes and indeed, Ken Livingstone came up with the idea, but Boris was London's mayor when they launched, so Santander can whistle.
That said, the bank is well known for advertising around things that are active - you'll note that they have sponsorship agreements with Rory McIlroy, Jenson Button and Jessica Ennis-Hill. While there's no formal contract signed just yet, it looks like Boris Bikes will be branded red, rather than cyan, next week.
A source says that Santander will be paying £7.5m annually for seven years on more than 10,000 bicycles across London. However, Coca Cola have been trying to sponsor the bikes too, so they might make a last minute attempt to scupper the bank's deal.
Graeme Craig, TfL's director of commercial development, said: "We are currently going through the final stages of the contractual process to appoint the new sponsor of London’s Cycle Hire scheme, and will announce it in due course. We’re at a really exciting point in the evolution of Cycle Hire, including record numbers of users in 2014."
"The new sponsor will have the exceptional opportunity to be entwined within the fabric of London and help us deliver the scheme further to get even more people on to two wheels."
This news occurs just as there's suggestions that unused Underground lines and stations could become an underground cycling network in London, complete with a special pavement which would power the network with kinetic energy. All very futuristic.