The Aston Martin Formula 1 team’s Managing Director Jeff Slack has said recent investment isn’t a sign that owner Lawrence Stroll will sell, stating that “he’s not going anywhere.”
Last week it was announced that private equity company Arctos acquired a minority shareholding in AMR Holdings GP Limited, the parent company of the Aston Martin F1 team.
The deal, set to be completed by the end of the year, reportedly values the team at $1bn, as per the Financial Times and Arctos appears similar to some of Alpine’s new investors, given its interests in American sports franchises and European football teams, including Liverpool.
The Arctos investment is the first time team-owner Stroll has brought in outside finances to the team in this fashion and prior to this, rumours had been swirling that the Canadian businessman was considering cutting ties with his F1 project, but Slack says this deal proves the opposite.
“Lawrence is all in, he’s not going anywhere,” Slack told Motorsport.com. “It’s not just the team, but he has this thing called Aston Martin Lagonda that’s a pretty important part of his life too. So the team is the marketing platform for Aston Martin Lagonda.
“And of course, Lawrence is a very wealthy guy, it’s not an issue of capital.
“The other thing about these guys, if you dive in a bit, they’re never control guys, they never own and operate anything, only minority stakes.
“They are never going to be a control operator, they’re never going to be the owner of this team.
“So that shows you if Lawrence was trying to sell to somebody who ultimately could take control, these will be the last guys you would sell to.”
Slack says the deal has been in the works for some time, having “met them [Arctos] two years ago,” and that the deal came about in a less than conventional way.
“A lot of people have approached us and Lawrence to invest in the team,” Slack added. “And we’re in a very unique situation, we have one owner that controls the whole team, and can decide on lunch if it’s the right deal. And we didn’t go through a really formal process, it was just these guys were clearly the right guys, mainly from a strategic standpoint.
“Obviously, there’s investment, but what they bring to the party is working with some of the best franchises in the world.”
Slack called Arctos the “best in class” and proceeded to go to great lengths to explain how the deal would benefit the team as a whole.
“They’ve specialised in long-term minority stakes and top franchises, he explained. There are not many people that are doing that, although you’re getting a lot more money coming into sports, institutional capital. These guys have been the leaders in doing that.
“I think you have to be open-minded. Nobody does things perfectly or the best way.
“And you have to look outside of the bubble to say, how can we as a business do things better?
“It’s not just on the commercial marketing side, it may be athlete preparation, they’ve invested in organisations that might be better at that. There’s a whole gamut of things that we can learn from. And there might be things that those organisations learn from us, because we’re a global business, whereas a lot of the franchises will be more local.”
Arctos is just the latest sign of U.S. investment in Formula 1, as the sport continues to stamp its mark stateside from a racing, fan and business spectacle and Slack believes that this is a good thing for the sport.
“There’s been private equity transactions done already, several,” he said. “This is the next step in that, again, good for our whole sport, it values the sport it says, ‘hey, this is like buying an NBA team or an NFL team’.
“This is what you’re getting when you get into F1. So I think that’s totally good for the business.
“The second is specific to our team. We’ve talked about the new campus, new wind tunnel, Honda engines, doubling the workforce. This is the next evolution, and this also gives us the right financial partner to do what we need, and invest how we need. Not that Lawrence couldn’t do it, but now he has a true partner who does this for a living.”