AUGUST 24, 2004
Jordan and the Arabs
There have been stories in recent days about the much-rumoured dealings between Jordan and the Al Maktoum family in Saudi Arabia. These have highlighted some of the problems that might exist within the deal but appear to have failed to take into account one important element in the story: a company called Grand Prix Investments exists and the intention is for this to be floated shortly on the Dubai stock exchange. If the money can be raised the company will then buy the majority of shares in the Jordan team. The aim , as we understand it, is for Jordan to retain a 15% shareholding and remain as the figurehead of the team for a period of time. Thus it might well be fair to say that the Al Maktoum family has no intention of putting its own money into the team but that does not mean that it cannot (or will not) use its influence in the Gulf to get sponsorship for the team.
The Al-Maktoum family is related to many different businesses in Dubai and we have heard that there are as many as seven Arab companies lined up to become sponsors of the team after the deal is done. If this is the case the Al-Maktoums may be able to get across their message that Dubai is a good place to do business, without needing to actually invest in the team.
This form of networking is not new in the Arab world, the best example being back in the 1980s when Saudia was the sponsor of the Williams F1 team. The involvement in that deal of the Saudi royal family led to a number of other deals involving companies which did business in the region and wanted to remain close to the Saudi authorities. The most famous of these companies was TAG, which went on to become (and remains to this day) a major partner in McLaren.
It remains to be seen whether or not the money can be raised for the purchase to go ahead but certainly the interest is there, even if the Al Maktoums are careful with their money.
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