Opinion- Why Qadbak Failed

BMW Sauber F1 Team

BMW Sauber F1 Team

Qadbak’s attempted takeover of BMW Sauber failed this week, as Sauber took over the team, and then received a spot on the 2010 grid. However, there is still a lot to analyse regarding this investor group.

Qadbak Investments Ltd is known to be a Swiss-based company registered in the British Virgin Islands. It claims to have a total portfolio value of £97bn, invested in natural resources, heavy industry, logistics and infrastructure. It  served as the vehicle for the purchase of the football club Notts County. This was in the news recently, when one of Qadbak’s senior representatives, Russell King, had £1.9 million of his assets frozen due to unpaid debt and fraud. The unpaid debt referred to a different company (Belgravia) with whom he tried to found a Dubai-based Formula 1 team.

The Notts County takeover is important here, as holes started to appear in their story. Notts County released a statement, naming two of the families in the Qadbak group as the Shafi and Hyat families. However, Anwar Shafi, a member of the Shafi family, denied any connection with Notts County or Qadbak. No statement was made by the Hyat family. Here, the structure of Qadbak is still unknown, which must have worried the FIA when Qadbak went to buy out BMW Sauber.

With no public news on the consortium, it is unclear whether the FIA were any more knowledgable on the matter than we were. It is more than likely they were, but this is inconclusive. The FIA wanted to increase the size of the grid to 13 (at one point 14) teams, so allowing Qadbak in seemed like a good idea. However, the secrecy that Qadbak had started to put doubts into people’s minds. Meyrick Cox, the managing director of Rothschild Bank, described Qadbak as a “wholly reputable orginisation”. This did not quell doubts, as the FIA were understood to have been pessimistic towards Qadbak’s entry. This showed when the FIA stalled on granting them a spot on the 2010 grid.

Eventually, due to doubts about their spot on the 2010 grid and investor funding issues, Qadbak pulled out of the buying of BMW, instead allowing Sauber to take over. Only a few days later, the FIA granted a place to the Sauber team. Their secrecy, which surely must have helped them hugely in the past, backfired on them, as an apparent lack of transparency cost them their grid spot.

There is no doubt that Qadbak will simply shift attention to Notts County, but their attempted foray into F1 has raised many difficult questions. In my opinion, their departure is a relief to many.

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