Eric­s­son back­ers linked to Sauber buy­out

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Own­er­ship of Long­bow Fi­nance is shrouded in mys­tery – as is the com­pany’s mo­ti­va­tion for tak­ing on the ail­ing team

Sauber’s re­cent money strug­gles ap­pear to nally be at an end, af­ter the team an­nounced at the Hun­gar­ian GP that they have new own­ers.

That wel­come news was tem­pered, how­ever, by spec­u­la­tion as to the iden­tity of the new own­ers. The com­pany, Long­bow Fi­nance SA, are based in Switzer­land, with all the opac­ity that en­tails. So the stake­hold­ers in Long­bow are largely un­known, and there is un­cer­tainty over what they stand to gain from an as­so­ci­a­tion with a team who were slip­ping into obliv­ion.

So far, only Long­bow pres­i­dent Pas­cal Picci has been named by Sauber, and he has be­come the team’s chair­man. But scru­tiny of pub­licly avail­able cor­po­rate dec­la­ra­tions in Switzer­land and the UK re­veal clear links be­tween the Swiss­based in­vest­ment com­pany, prom­i­nent Swedish busi­nesses, and Sauber driver Mar­cus Eric­s­son.

Picci is a direc­tor of Sport­pro Ltd, a com­pany in­cor­po­rated in 2006 by a Birm­ing­ham-based lawyer, John So­den, who at the time was le­gal ad­viser to Eric­s­son and his then man­ager, Kenny Brack, ahead of Eric­s­son’s rst year in sin­gle­seaters. Brack is no longer on the scene, and no longer a direc­tor of Sport­pro, but sub­se­quent and cur­rent di­rec­tors also in­clude Finn Raus­ing, co-owner of Tetra Laval – the mak­ers of the Tetra Pak – and Karl-Jo­han Pers­son, grand­son of the founder of the cloth­ing chain H&M.

Long­bow Fi­nance is a ma­jor­ity share­holder in Sport­pro, along with Swedish real es­tate com­pany Rams­bury In­vest, which is owned by Pers­son’s fa­ther. In turn, Sport­pro owned 40 per cent of ME Pro­mo­tions Ltd, a com­pany also orig­i­nally set up by So­den and Brack, and funded it in the form of loans. Eric­s­son owned the other 60 per cent un­til the com­pany was dis­solved in 2010, and Pers­son was listed as the sec­re­tary. Be­fore dis­so­lu­tion, its debt of £1.1mil­lion to Sport­pro was trans­ferred to a Nether­lands-based com­pany called ME Pro­mo­tions BV, which has led trade­marks re­lated to Eric­s­son’s per­sonal logo, and also has own­er­ship ties with Sport­pro.

Sauber team prin­ci­pal Mon­isha Kal­tenborn re­marked only that: “All dis­clo­sures that are re­quired in Switzer­land are done.” But the paper trail of­fers a glimpse be­hind the cur­tain. Most im­por­tantly for the team and the sport, it shows that what­ever the mo­ti­va­tion for the se­crecy, the money is now there.

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