New Sunderland sponsors dismiss claims of murky practices in Africa

Ellis Short, chairman of Sunderland AFC at official announcement of Invest in Africa as the Sunderland AFC partner and shirt sponsor for the 2012/13 season.
Ellis Short, chairman of Sunderland AFC at official announcement of Invest in Africa as the Sunderland AFC partner and shirt sponsor for the 2012/13 season.
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THE oil company behind SAFC’s new sponsors have hit back at allegations they are trying to achieve “social legitimacy” through their deal with the club.

On Monday, bosses at the Stadium of Light announced that Invest in Africa, a not-for-profit organisation, had signed a two-year sponsorship deal with the Black Cats.

But a campaign group voiced concerns about Tullow Oil, founding partner of Invest in Africa, after allegations were made in national newspapers about unethical practices abroad.

Campaigning group Platform released a report alleging the oil giant is trying to achieve social legitimacy by launching the new sponsorship venture.

It alleges that the work of Invest in Africa is undermined by the nature of the deals that Tullow tried to strike in countries like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But these allegations were today strongly refuted by both Invest in Africa and Tullow, who spoke exclusivly to the Echo.

George Cazenove, head of communications at Tullow said: “Invest in Africa is not a front company for Tullow Oil.

“The company is the founding partner and Aidan Heavey, our CEO, is intimately involved.

“It is the clear intention that other partners will join Tullow and Monday’s launch was partly a call for partners.

“This won’t work if it’s only associated with Tullow.

“It needs other large, established companies and their networks across Africa to succeed and drive investment.”

William Pollen, director at Invest in Africa, said: “Our vision is to challenge misconceptions about doing business in Africa by inspiring new businesses into the continent working in partnership with local Africa companies.

“This is a huge but important challenge and Tullow certainly can’t do it alone.

“It needs other large established companies operating in Africa to share their knowledge and experience of successfully doing business in Africa.

“Together IiA’s founding partners can demonstrate the enormous potential for investors in Africa, which is why Monday’s sponsorship announcement was in part a rallying call to partners.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7