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The ownership of F1 has been a hot topic over the past few weeks. First it was revealed that three investment funds had bought a big stake in the sport. US-based Waddell & Reed paid £635m ($1bn) for 13.9% of F1 in January and it was followed by BlackRock and Norges which together bought a 7.4% stake for £381m ($600m) in May.
Details of the investments were reportedly revealed in non-public pre-deal research reports from some of the banks involved in the planned flotation of F1 on the Singapore stock exchange. On Friday, F1's biggest shareholder, the private equity firm CVC, exclusively revealed on its website that Waddell & Reed had invested a further £317.5m ($500m) to take its share up to 20.9%. You might have thought that after all these musical chairs more changes to the ownership of F1 wouldn't come to light for some time. You'd be wrong.
An article in today's Telegraph, by Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt, reveals that yet more new owners of F1 have come on board and they aren't at all who you might expect.
The article reveals that David Campbell, the former boss of Allsport, F1's corporate hospitality and marketing division, has received shares in the sport's parent company Delta Topco. In addition, the following company filing (link to pdf) showing Delta Topco's shareholders reveals that Campbell's wife Tracey now also owns shares in it. People close to CVC confirm that together Campbell and his wife have a stake of under 0.1%. This may not seem much but given that F1 is expected to be valued at $10bn it means the shares are worth around $10m which is not to be sniffed at.
Campbell is a business bigwig and has specialised in the entertainment industry. Prior to becoming a director of Allsport in July last year he was chief executive and president of AEG Europe which owns London's O2 Arena. He turned the O2 into the world's most popular music venue and before that he worked for Sir Richard Branson's Virgin group for 11 years where he rose to become boss of Virgin Radio and masterminded the sale of the station for £225m to Scottish broadcaster SMG. Along with his links to F1 this seems to make him a logical candidate to be a shareholder in the sport but in fact it is surprising for several reasons.
The first reason is that Campbell isn't actually involved with F1 any more since, as revealed in March, he resigned earlier this year following a dispute with the sport's boss Bernie Ecclestone. A senior source at CVC said "it didn't really work out. Bernie wanted to take the business in a different way and that wasn't the basis on which we hired David. His departure was by mutual agreement."
Another reason which makes Campbell's shareholding surprising is that he was a director of Allsport for less than a year. The stake was transferred earlier this year as Delta Topco documents dated 1 January 2012 did not show that he owned any shares. He is understood to have got the shares as an incentive for taking the Allsport job and this kind of arrangement is often proposed by companies to attract top outside talent. However, executives usually have to return the shares if they resign before a certain period of time. You might have thought that they would need to be there for at least a year but people close to CVC confirmed to Sylt that Campbell had served enough time with the company to be able to keep the shares after resigning.
They also confirmed that Campbell decided to split his stake with his wife. The only record of her being on the board of UK companies is as secretary of two businesses which closed around five years ago and were majority owned by her husband. The two married in 1995, live in West Sussex and have four children.
Tracey Campbell is the only wife of an F1 shareholder who also owns a stake in the business. The only comparison is Ecclestone's ex-wife Slavica since one of F1's shareholders is a company called Bambino Holdings which is owned by a Liechtenstein-based trust believed to be in her name. However, even this is not a precise comparison since, unlike Tracey Campbell, Slavica does not own the shares directly and Ecclestone's children, Tamara and Petra, are also believed to be beneficiaries of the trust.
Bambino once owned all the shares in F1 since Ecclestone indirectly transferred his ownership of the business to the trust in 1996 as part of a tax planning exercise which was crucial at the time because he feared that he may die from heart problems. These were put to rest when he had a triple bypass in 1999 but by then Bambino had taken its place at the heart of F1.
All of F1's shareholders except for Tracey Campbell, have had a very public and direct involvement with the sport in some way. CVC bought into F1 in 2006 along with Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan and Bambino which all own shares in the business now. Likewise, Churchill Capital, the advisory firm which brokered the F1 purchase deal between CVC and Ecclestone, invested in 2006 in return for shares. Waddell & Reed, BlackRock and Norges also got their shares through investing in F1.
Then comes the management who got shares from their roles in running the business. Ecclestone of course is the boss of the company so both he and its chief legal officer Sacha Woodward-Hill have shares in it, as does its chief financial officer Duncan Llowarch. Judith Griggs, one of Allsport's senior managers, and Paddy McNally, the company's original boss, also have stakes in F1 whilst Sir Martin Sorrell and Peter Brabeck-Letmathe own shares through their positions as independent non-executive directors. That leaves David and Tracey Campbell.
Although he resigned, David Campbell's shares came through his position as Allsport's boss but people close to CVC say that his wife has not been involved with the management of F1. Instead, it is understood that Campbell split his shares with her. There is absolutely nothing wrong with him doing this but it doesn't change the fact that she has not had a very public and direct involvement with F1as the other shareholders have. This leads nicely to several questions.
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