Recently, we learned that a 39-percent stake in Dorna, the Madrid-based TV rights-holders to MotoGP since 1992, has been taken by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). Andre Bourbonnais, Senior VP of Private Investments at CPPIB, said, “This is a unique opportunity to invest in a leading international sports-marketing business.”
The decision to invest came shortly after Bridgepoint, the 11-billion-euro holding group that owns Dorna, acquired Infront Sports, rights-holders for the Superbike World Championship, and then placed it under Dorna control. Dorna also operates the Spanish national championship and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.
I phoned the CPPIB and was told by a spokesperson, “We have a little different pension system here in Canada. There is a basic system that makes sure you won’t be left in poverty. In addition, some 15 years ago, drawing funds from workers and employers, this investment board created a sort of nest egg to invest [whose income could offset any shortfall from demographic changes]. We now have CA$165 billion, which is invested for the long term over a global range of investments.
“We look for companies that can provide long-term, risk-adjusted returns. We have a standing relationship with Bridgepoint.
“We do extensive due diligence and have been impressed with Dorna’s track record—the ability of the business to perform well through economic cycles. In the due-diligence process, we saw that motorcycle racing has global appeal with growth potential in emerging markets.”
Could it be that SBK’s recent success in running its new round at Moscow Raceway in Russia and then making an agreement to hold a race at India’s Buddh International Circuit underlined the “growth potential in emerging markets?”