RBC Heritage

RBC's sale of retail operations won't affect Heritage sponsorship

The Royal Bank of Canada's sale of its U.S. retail banking operations will not affect RBC's title sponsorship of the Heritage, tournament and company officials said Monday.

The purchase by PNC Financial Services Group Inc. does not include RBC's U.S. divisions that will sponsor the Heritage, a tournament official said.

"It's the wealth-management and capital-markets portion of RBC that we work with," said Simon Fraser, chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation, the nonprofit group that runs the 43-year-old tournament. "Everyone knew they were selling their retail branches when we signed the deal. They've been talking about doing that for quite some time, and will not affect their support of the tournament."

The tournament will be called the RBC Heritage, as was announced Thursday.

Jim Little, RBC's chief brand and communications officer, said Monday that RBC is committed to the U.S. market, and the deal allows it to concentrate on growing its wealth-management and capital-markets services, the two largest components of its U.S. business.

"Golf is a great marketing platform for those two components ... and we believe the Heritage is a perfect fit for our business operations in the U.S. and helping us build our brand," he said. "We are very keen on (the Heritage) and building a great tournament for our clients and the community."

PNC said the transaction will bring its total number of branches to 2,870, making it the fifth largest among U.S. banks. RBC Bank (USA), based in Raleigh, N.C., has 424 branches and about $25 billion in assets.

After two anxious years of searching for a new title sponsor, tournament officials announced Thursday the Heritage is secure for the next five years, as RBC will fulfill that role through 2016.

The Boeing Co. will be the local presenting sponsor, and the tournament also will receive financial support from the Hilton Head Island Town Council.

RBC also is title sponsor of the Canadian Open and has endorsement deals with a half-dozen of the tour's high-profile players, including 2010 Heritage champion Jim Furyk.

Tour and RBC officials declined to disclose terms of the Heritage sponsorship deal, although RBC will be "taking the lead financially," according to PGA Tour and tournament officials.

Tournament organizers sought $7 million to $8 million per year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow reporter Tom Barton on Twitter at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.