AUGUST 29, 2007

Who is Alejandro Agag and why does it matter?

Alejandro Agag is tipped as a possible partner for the Super Aguri F1 team. He is a man who needs top be watched in the future because the 36-year-old Spaniard is extraordinarily well-connected both in business and in political circles.

The son of a Belgian banker, who became the number two at the National Bank of Algeria when the bank was still run being run as a branch of France's banking system, Agag was born in Spain where his mother was an active member of the Partido Popular political party. He studied economics at the Colegio Universitario de Estudios Financieros (CUNEF) but was active in the Partido Popular at the same time. He was quickly elected to the European Parliament and later became secretary-general of the European People's Party. In that era he was also a close advisor of Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and became close friends with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In 2002 he married Aznar's daughter and resigned from politics and went into business, opening a number of companies and taking a job with a Portuguese bank. He also became involved with Flavio Briatore (a friend of Berlusconi) in a company called Stacourt Ltd.

This is registered at the same address at GP2 Motorsport Ltd in Orpington, Kent, and is rumoured to involve Bernie Ecclestone as well.

Stacourt Ltd acquired the TV rights for F1 in Spain that year, when there were only around 600,000 viewers per race. The deal was for seven years and was cheap, but since the arrival of Fernando Alonso in 2003 (thanks to Briatore) Stacourt has made a fortune selling the rights on to Telecinco, which pays around $20m a year. Since then Agag has been involved in other deals, notably the Telefonica sponsorship deal with Renault. He acquired the majority shareholding in the Campos Racing GP2 operation last year and changed the name to Campos Grand Prix, a clear indication that he has ambitions to be an F1 team owner.

According to Spanish sources he is now trying to do a deal with a Chinese bank to support a Formula 1 team. The Super Aguri F1 team is already well connected with Briatore as it is run by his former right hand man in F1 Daniele Audetto.

Aguri Suzuki would like to remain the majority shareholder and team principal of the team that bears his name but if he cannot find the funding to do the job properly, he may one day decide to sell to Agag, to whom money appears to be no problem at all.