Fernandes keeps faith in QPR and Caterham
Unlike the AirAsia success story, Tony Fernandes’ Midas touch appears to have deserted him when it comes to investing in sports teams. But the Malaysian entrepreneur disagrees. In an exclusive interview, he tells Ian De Cotta (email@example.com) about his belief that English football club Queens Park Rangers and the Caterham F1 racing team will eventually live up to their potential.
SINGAPORE — He paid more than £30 million (S$60.3 million) in 2010 to start the Lotus F1 racing team and another £35 million the following year to take over the majority ownership of English Premier League (EPL) club Queens Park Rangers (QPR).
But, so far, Tony Fernandes’ forays into sports through his Malaysia-based Tune Group have not panned out the same way his storied acquisition of AirAsia 12 years ago has.
Two years after their return to the Premiership under Tune’s ownership, QPR were relegated to the second-tier Championship.
The London club’s financial statements covering the 2011-2012 season announced in March this year also revealed losses of £22.6 million and debts of £89 million.
Lotus, which was renamed Caterham last year after the team bought the British sports car maker of the same name in 2011, are also having their worst Formula 1 season. They are currently in last spot with two races to go, ahead of this morning’s United States Grand Prix.
But Fernandes told TODAY the stories of both QPR and Caterham have yet to play out the way he envisioned. He pointed out that QPR are currently third in the Championship and poised to earn automatic promotion to the EPL if they finish in the top two.
“You buy a team for its potential, and both QPR and Caterham have amazing potential,” said the Malaysian entrepreneur.
“QPR are doing well in the Championship. Relegation was the hard reset we needed. It gave us the opportunity to rebuild the club into something better. If we return to the EPL, it will be different.”