- Minority investment valued Aston Martin at UK£1bn
- ‘Losing interest is not a phrase you’d associate with Lawrence Stroll’, says Jefferson Slack
The Aston Martin Formula One team hope to ‘compete with the best teams’ in the series following a minority investment from Arctos Partners.
The Silverstone-based team plans to benefit from the private equity firm’s extensive expertise and existing relationships to build a more comprehensive commercial offering.
“These are the right partners,” Jefferson Slack, managing director of commercial and marketing at Aston Martin, told BlackBook Motorsport. “They bring a lot of expertise, they bring a lot of relationships.
“[Arctos] is a member of some of the best-run sports entities in the world, [there are so many] learnings that can come from that, from commercial relationships, and best practices.
“This was much more about a strategic partnership than, one, selling, because that’s not happening and, two, changing priorities. It’s the exact opposite.”
Rumours bubbled that this investment was a sign of team owner Lawrence Stroll stepping back, but “losing interest is not even a phrase you’d associate with [him]”, according to Slack.
In reality, Arctos specialises in minority investments, with strategic partnerships in place with the likes of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz.
One missing aspect of the firm's portfolio was an investment in the rapidly expanding Formula One. Arctos is “the last group you would ever sell to if you were trying to take a minority and turn them into a majority”, explained Slack. After all, Stroll has seen a significant return on investment since purchasing the former Force India team for UK£90 million (US$114 million) in 2018.
This new investment valued Aston Martin at a reported UK£1 billion (US$1.3 billion), which highlights both the popularity of Formula One and the increasing interest from US-based companies, especially after the recent €200 million (US$217.8 million) investment from Otro Capital and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners.
“This isn't the first group like this to come to the sport,” Slack outlined. “It's a validation that this is a really good sports property, it's a good business.
“It's a business that people think is going to grow significantly. This is a tribute to what [series owner] Liberty has done with the management of the sport. It's a tribute to competitions, to the budget cap, to Drive to Survive, to the continued acceleration and adoption technologies. All those things make F1 a good place to be right now.”
He continued: “The sport has taken a hold of the United States, it’s the world’s biggest economy. In the past, big US firms looked at Formula One as a European marketing platform, but not a global one – certainly not one including the United States. Now, that’s not the case.
“I think the sport is going to continue to grow and be strengthened by the United States. That serves as a virtuous circle, because that brings in more partners, more television money, and [Liberty] can invest more in the product.”
While the US provides obvious benefits as a mostly untapped market for Formula One, it also provides a different point of view for a sport that often gets stuck in an insular way of thinking.
“You have to be careful, because it’s natural that you can get sucked into a group think and do things the way that they've either been done or the way that other people are doing them,” added Slack.
“Maybe in some cases, that's the best way to do it. Stepping back, the reality is the United States has the most sophisticated sports business marketing models, the leagues there are the best in the world at that. I think that is not controversial to say that. So to learn from, to be engaged with those types of organisations, I think it's helpful for us and I think we can help them as well.”
Moving forward, the hope is that this long-term partnership can help to carry Aston Martin to the front of the field, something the team briefly tasted after an electric start to the 2023 season.
“[Arctos] has an evergreen fund so, unlike most private equity funds, there's not an end date that they have to sell by,” Slack said. “They’re long-term partners here, there's no exit that has to happen. What would be successful is that we would get a lot of strategic value over our relationship with them.
“We're going to sit here in three or four years to market the value of this team and say ‘wow, this team has gone up in value significantly’, so they know that they’ve made a good investment and we know that they've helped us become more competitive and, ultimately, win.”