Who are those guys? (Part II)

Giancarlo Fisichella, Brazilian GP 2003

Giancarlo Fisichella, Brazilian GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

It seems that suggestions that Craig Pollock may be involved with the investment company which has bought into Jordan Grand Prix are wide of the mark and that the Merrion Capital Group is actually representing a consortium of some of Ireland's richest men, who have no connection with motor racing at all.

John Conroy of Merrion Capital says that the new investors are "attracted by Jordan's proven ability to win races in this most competitive of sports and by the vibrant, can-do culture of the Jordan brand and Eddie Jordan".

The latest suggestion in the Formula 1 paddock is that the men behind the deal are JP McManus and John Magnier, the men who just a few days ago acquired BSkyB's 9.9% stake in Manchester United to increase their shareholding in the famous soccer team to 23.15%. That deal cost them around $93m but they do not want to control the club but seem rather to be keen to snap up as much stock as possible as the share price was low and there may be others willing to buy the club and enable them to make a quick profit.

McManus and Magnier and perhaps another Irish millionaire Dermot Desmond (who owns a Barbdaos resort in partnership with McManus, in which they have invested $200m) may have felt that they could pick up Jordan shares for next to nothing. We have even heard that the deal was completed with former Jordan partner Warburg Pincus in an exchange for equity in a pharmaceutical company in which the Irishmen had invested. We have not however found any trace of a such a company.

There is no doubt that McManus and Magnier are gamblers. The pair are not traditionally long-term investors and it may be that they have bought into Jordan to help build it up a little in the hope that they can sell it on later. Both men are known for their love of horse racing and for their extravagant bets on horses and on golf. Both own huge stables of racehorses but they make their fortunes in the fast-moving world of currency trading. Diversifying into sport and leisure has been for fun rather than for profit.

Three years ago McManus staged the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am golf tournament which attracted an impressive list of celebrities, including Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie. The non-professional golfers included Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, Chris de Burgh and Eddie Jordan...

The only slightly puzzling thing is why, if they are the buyers, they have decided to hide behind an investment company like Merrion Capital.

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