QADBAK (Partially) Revealed: How Football Answers Questions About QADBAK-Sauber and F1


What Happens When Secretive Means Just Search Harder

4:47pm EST — While its spot on the 2010 grid is not yet secure, with the FIA still talking to FOTA about allowing fourteen teams on the grid, and the wait for someone else to not actually participate, Qadbak-Sauber, the new incarnation of the former BMW-Sauber, is confident of its racing ability in 2010.  With reports of Ferrari engines, and hopes to be the best of the new teams, the investment group Qadbak rescued the team after the shocking withdrawal of BMW.  Still, though, very little is known about this consortium of Middle Eastern and European families, except that the same group recently took over football club  Notts County.  Much investigative journalism has gone on with regard to the Notts County takeover, and it applies to the Formula1 team as well.  However, most of the information has not been put together in one story.

According to the official Notts County website, NC is “universally recognized as the Oldest League Club in the World.”  While certainly not the highest ranked club in England, NC has had multiple manager changes in recent years, and  recently “moved into a new and exciting era after the Munto Finance, following successful due diligence, completed the acquisition of the Football Club…[after] Supporters Trust members voted overwhelmingly to gift their shares to Munto to take the club forwards. Peter Trembling became executive chairman with immediate effect following the takeover,” according to the team’s website.  Early reports of the deal indicated that Munto Finance was a consortium headed by Peter Trembling (previously the Everton commercial director) and Peter Willett (said to be a client representative of the Al Thani Investment Group).  The Al Thani Investment Group (www.thanigroup.com) is an investment and real estate development firm founded in 1997 and based in Dubai, UAE and chaired by Abdullah bin Saeed Al Thani.  The CEO is Richard Camball, and Willet is listed as the Executive Vice President, Development.

Meanwhile, Willett (who is on the Notts County Board with Peter Trembling) and his son Nathan are directors of both Qadbak and Swiss Community Holding.  At one point, it came out in the press (and the press release by NC) that Munto Finance is a subsidiary of Qadbak, which is the named buyer of the BMW shares of the BMW-Sauber F1 team.  Swiss Community Holding, the Williett family holding company, was advertised as having “a portfolio of investments in mining and finance worth SwFr160 billion (about £98 billion), plus 40 offices and industrial operations in 12 countries, employing more than 100,000 people” on its website, according to The Times.  This site, however, lacked information about other board members or any contracts, or even a telephone number, and only listed the company as being in Zurich.  Even other secretive mining companies have more available information online, and inquires by The Times to the mining industry “elicited a blank response.”  Then, the SCH website was completely closed down September 25, 2009, and all that remained was a “website under construction” notice.  The new director of football at NC, Sven-Goran Eriksson, received shareholdings in SCH before/during/after Qadbak took over NC and Peter Trembling appointed him to his new position at the club with a pay-cut, as did star player Sol Campbell, who quit after five weeks with the club.

After many public questions by supporters of NC and the press, Qadbak allowed NC to release a modicum of information about the company.  According to the release on the club’s website, investors in Qadbak include “the Shafi Family and the Hyat Family, both highly respected and very successful members of the business world in the Middle East, Asia, North America and Europe. Like other shareholders in the QADBAK, they are based in the Middle East…the families revealed today have built their businesses over the last 200 years. Family members include Sir Sikwander [sic] Hyat, a former Prime Minister of the Punjab and a personal friend of Sir Winston Churchill and Nawab Sir Liaquat Hyat (Prime Minister of Patiala state).”  The NC release also explained that, “QADBAK has a multi-billion dollar investment portfolio across Natural Resources, Heavy Industry, Logistics and Infrastructure.”  A Mr. Anwar Shafi was quoted in the release as a sort of spokesperson for the families and Qadbak.

This released family information, with a little research, reveals a family dynasty heavily involved in the British rule in Pakistan and current Pakistani politics, though their influence is greatly diminished today.  While it remains unknown just how the families are related to Sir Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan (the man mentioned in the NC/Qadbak press release), he and his descendants were instrumental in the formation of the Unionist Party and pre- and post- partition politics in Pakistan.  Actually named as current investors in Qadbak by the BBC are Dr. Moeen Qureshi and Shaki Ullah Durrani.  Dr. Qureshi was the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a short period in 1993, and was previously a Vice President of the World Bank, and Mr. Durrani was a governor of Islamabad and a governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.

Also mentioned in relation to Qadbak is Russell King, who is named as a representative and not a board member.  Not only was he, apparently, instrumental to Qadbak’s takeover of Notts County, King was also an adviser during Qadbak’s takeover of the BMW shares of BMW-Sauber.  King himself is under investigation with a freeze on 1.9 million pounds of his assets by a Jersey court because of an unpaid debt regarding an entirely different company (Belgravia) with whom he attempted to found a Formula1 team based in Dubai, as is the Al Thani Group, with which King is connected by Peter Willett and his Vice Presidency at that firm.  There are some very interesting, and wholly usual, paper trails between these various companies and their inter-related board members that are difficult to ferret out.

Still, there is no evidence yet that Qadbak, in buying the BMW shares of the BMW-Sauber Formula1 team, is involved in any illegal or dangerous activity.  Meyrick Cox, the Managing Director of Rothschild Bank, advised BMW during the sale and said that Qadbak is “a wholly reputable organization.”  It appears that Qadbak is made up of a Pakistani political family who enjoys their privacy, and some British nationals who enjoy investing money though companies set up in adopted countries with easier tax laws (the UAE in the case of Willett, and Bahrain for King, and Switzerland and Jersey for both).

While it would behoove Qadbak to shed a little more light on at least some of their invested parties, it is not how the members seem to want to operate.  Until the confidentiality agreements are no longer valid or some enterprising journalist finds more about these companies and the men and women involved with them, it is unlikely that sports fans, football and Formula1 alike, will really know where the money is coming from.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the research. Qadbak is still a black hole 😉

  2. […] On a Sunday, these Days hat weiter recherchiert und zusätzliche Informationen zu den Familien hinter Qadbak herausgefunden:“This released family information, with a little research, reveals a family dynasty heavily involved in the British rule in Pakistan and current Pakistani politics, though their influence is greatly diminished today.  While it remains unknown just how the families are related to Sir Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan (the man mentioned in the NC/Qadbak press release), he and his descendants were instrumental in the formation of the Unionist Party and pre- and post- partition politics in Pakistan.  Actually named as current investors in Qadbak by the BBC are Dr. Moeen Qureshi and Shaki Ullah Durrani.  Dr. Qureshi was the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a short period in 1993, and was previously a Vice President of the World Bank, and Mr. Durrani was a governor of Islamabad and a governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.” […]


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