Hundreds of thousands of dollars could be drained from the revenue pool of government-owned corporation Australia Post if Aussie athletes fail to bag gold in London.
For the fifth time in the past six Olympics, the nation's postie has emerged as an Olympic "team partner", for a secret amount paid to the Australian Olympic Committee that it says is commercial-in-confidence.
Eyebrows were raised yesterday after The Australian Financial Review reported that Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour had "hosted" several "high-priced tables" at a corporate hospitality event in London alongside his good mate, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou.
An AOC source declined to reveal Australia Post's total spend but said revenue from the 26 official Australian Olympic team partners was worth "$38 or $39 million". Each sponsor maintains a separate commercial-in-confidence arrangement ranging from $400,000 upwards.
An Australia Post spokesperson also declined to comment on the specific amount, but argued the cost was offset by the success of "instant" gold medal stamps "issued shortly after an Australian wins gold at the Olympics".
Currently, Australia has secured just one gold from the Games and could conceivably win only a handful more -- significantly detracting from the stamps' appeal. Yesterday the first stamp featuring the female 4x100-metre freestyle relay team went on sale across the country.
Australia Post paid a $173.2 million dividend back to Canberra in 2010-11 but, according to its annual report, keeps some funds on the books to ensure that the "business" remains "sustainable".
The Labor-connected Fahour took home a bulbous salary of $2.89 million that year -- more than the Prime Minister or any of her senior public servants.
The government-backed monopolist has supported the Australian Olympic team at five of the six most recent Olympic Games.
Its involvement remains extensive. According to the spokesperson, corporate hospitality "is only one part of a large Olympics program, which includes staff delivering mail to the Olympic Village, helping children write to their favourite athletes, giving customers the chance to go the Games through a range of consumer promotions and producing instant gold medalist stamps".
Australia Post put out a press release last week trumpeting five local employees that will "deliver mail" to Australia's athletes in the East End.
But the benefits of Olympics sponsorship are far from clear-cut. Even major global multinationals have admitted that they're not sure if they're really getting bang for their buck for the $2 billion outlayed in this year's Games.
Australia Post has significantly expanded its commercial footprint under Fahour, expanding into financial services and increasing its swag of commercial partnerships like yesterday's tie up with the country's "largest online mall" Taraaz.