When sponsors don’t meet shareholders

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Trawling through a pretty dry Reuters article on Bahrain not being a tip-top day for F1 sponsors – which I was about to file in the ‘you don’t say’ cabinet – I came across one interesting paragraph. (Possibly the only one.)

Mobile phone group Vodafone, which sponsors the McLaren team of British drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, was one of the few companies to comment on the race, saying it had sent no staff to Bahrain and had set out its concerns to McLaren.

There followed a sentence that made me laugh – just because of its silliness. (Remember who’s writing this.)

Thomson Reuters, parent company of Reuters, is a sponsor of the Williams Formula One team. A spokesman declined to comment.

But back to Vodafone. For fear of making a mountain out of a molehill, that’s not good news.

One would presume Vodafone knew about the Mumtalakat holding company (described on its homepage as “Bahrain’s investment arm holding company for the Kingdom’s non-oil and gas strategic assets” – it’s wholly state-owned) being the biggest single shareholder in McLaren. I’d recently seen the figure reported at both 40% and 50% of total shares – but it’s more than any other shareholder, in any case.

If Vodafone knew, and still complained, it seems they’re both bold and upset.

If they complained and didn’t know – one would presume they have since found out.

Alternatively, Vodafone just saw some mileage in not going and taking this stand (of sorts – in a sense, it’s their loss alone, right?) irrespective of the disconnect with McLaren’s ownership structure. In which case, move along, nothing to see here.

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