OCTOBER 26, 2009
There has been talk for a while now that Renault is planning to fund its Formula 1 team next year by selling a shareholding in the organisation, perhaps with an option for the buyer to take completely control of the team in 2013 after the current Concorde Agreement deal - to which Renault is committed - runs out. There has been speculation about a couple of possible buyers including Russian telecommunications magnate Alisher Usmanov, who controls the Megafon mobile phone company, which is one of the team's few remaining sponsors. Usmanov has recently showed an interest in diversifying into sports with a 25% share of the Arsenal soccer team in London. He is also the head of the international fencing federation. He owns the celebrated Sutton Place estate in Surrey, which was once owned by J Paul Getty. Usmanov, who is very close to former President Vladimir Putin, clearly likes a high profile.
The other name that has been mentioned is that of Luxembourg investor Gerard Lopez, who runs a company called Mangrove Capital Partners, a venture capital business which specialises in IT businesses. He was an early investor in Skype, making a payment of $1.9m to help the new company out and netting more than $180m when the company was sold to eBay Inc for $2.6bn. Lopez has recently invested in a driver management company. There is talk that there may also be an Asian group interested in buying into the team.
It remains to be seen what happens with Renault's engine operation in Viry-Chatillon.