US venture firm RSE to join Qatar in bid to take over F1?

US investment company RSE Ventures is said to be teaming up with Qatar to take a major investment in F1, according to a report by the Financial Times today.

The report suggests that the two parties want to buy 35.5% of F1 from the CVC Group for a price of $7-8bn – and that the ultimate aim is for Qatar to own the whole of F1. However it adds that no formal bid has been made, and due diligence is still being undertaken.

Headed by 75-year-old Stephen M Ross, RSE describes itself as “a sports and entertainment venture firm building, operating, and investing in exceptional companies,” adding that it operates sports, media and entertainment properties that deliver world-class experiences.”

It is best known for owning the Miami Dolphins. Its portfolio also includes soccer‘s Guinness International Champions Cup, various other sports and media properties, including Fanvision, the handheld TV device company that was involved with F1 until two years ago.

It’s worth noting that Chief Operating Officer Arne Rees has interesting background, having worked for UBS, ESPN and UEFA in the past. Indeed he was Head of Strategic Business Development at the football organisation, responsible for growing the Champions League and European Championship.

Meanwhile Qatar Sports Investments is part of the Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund. QSI is best known for owning top French soccer team Paris St German, while intriguingly QIA also owns 17% of the VW Group – which has of course been eyeing an F1 involvement for years.

The suggestion is that the controversy surrounding FIFA and the 2022 World Cup has led to Qatar accelerating its F1 plans, which include hosting a Grand Prix.

In February the chief of the Qatari ASN (QMMF) Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, a rally driver who has been the FIA Vice-President for sport in the Middle East since December 2013, said that a contract was about to be completed for a third Grand Prix in the region.

We are about to sign contracts to organise a Formula One race,” Al-Attiyah told agency AFP. “We have completed all the steps and there are only a few details before the official signature.”

In 2012 CVC sold part of its F1 stake to Black Rock, Norges Bank and Waddell & Reed.

Intriguingly some observers have suggested that some recent criticism of the sport has been fuelled by certain parties wanting to drive the price down, with some suggesting that Bernie Ecclestone, who still owns 5%, wants to buy it back.

It remains to be seen how that theory would get with the RSE/Qatari bid.

Meanwhile when I asked RSE about its interest in F1 I was told: “Unfortunately at this time we have no comment.”


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11 responses to “US venture firm RSE to join Qatar in bid to take over F1?

  1. LennyRooter

    When even FIFA have to back away because of the stink of corruption, it’s no surprise F1 is willing to do business.

  2. 75-year-old: here we go again! Baby boomers & neanderthals with their 20th century ideas. I blame baby boomers 4 F1’s current state because they all should be in retirement homes and make way for us, poor gen-xers and millennials.

    • GeorgeK

      “……poor genxers and millenials…”

      Emphasis on POOR! 🙂 unfortunately it seems to take 75+ years to accumulate the wealth to do this kind of risky deal. Where’s Elon Musk or Mark Cuban When you need them?

      Regardless of age there is no one out there going to spend billions of $$$$ without making a sizable ROI. It will be a new master with the same problems, or worse as the new owners look to milk more from the aging cow.

      • Yeah, well, I meant “poor’ metaphorically: older generations are standing in our way. There’s plenty of success under 40, 4 sure, y’know, but still not enough. Then neanderthals always “know” what people want nowadays and it ends up being exactly the opposite. Milking F1 will obviously continue under new ownership, agree to agree.

    • GeorgeK

      ….and by the way, I’m an aging baby boomer, my dad, God bless him, recently passed away at 102….which means there’s a good chance I’m going to be in your way for another 35 years or more! 🙂 🙂

  3. floodo1

    Please not a 3rd middle east race!

  4. Mick

    Is it a good time for a deal involving Qatar? We’ll probably be hearing revelations about how they won their bid to host the world cup for a year or two yet.

  5. Stone the crows

    You know if they could get Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to run F-1 it would be quite a thing.

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