Lotus F1 Owners Looking To Make Move Into Football Business
Lotus F1 racing team owners are "branching into the hazardous financial world of football by setting up an investment vehicle" to spend as much as €500M ($614.4M) on "the beautiful game," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Genii Group co-founders Gerard Lopez and Eric Lux, whose private equity fund Genii Capital acquired the old Renault F1 team in '09, have their eyes set on "about five second-tier European clubs, as well as a dozen football-related businesses" such as player agencies, academies and media rights management companies. The vehicle will be managed by Genii’s sister company Mangrove Capital Partners, an early investor in Skype. It has recruited Ferran Soriano and Marc Ingla, both of whom were senior executives at FC Barcelona "during its triumphant run over recent years." Genii admits its main purpose is to use Grand Prix weekends as a networking opportunity to broker deals in real estate, energy, new media, technology and the automotive industry, making it an "unusual F1 team owner." However, Lopez insisted that the football investment would not become "another networking platform." Lopez: "This is about investing in businesses that support and service clubs and about buying clubs and making them profitable" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/6).