|AG2R La Mondiale||Local and regional mutual insurance companies (FR)|
|Citroen||Agnelli family** (IT)|
|Astana Qazaqstan||Government of Kazahkstan (KZ)|
|Bahrain Victorious||Government of Bahrain (BH)|
|Bora||Willi Bruckbauer (DE)|
|Cofidis||Crédit Mutuel local banks (FR)|
|EF Education||Hult family (SE)|
|EasyPost||Jarrett Streebin (US)|
|Groupama||Local and regional mutual insurance companies (FR)|
|FDJ||Government of France** (FR)|
|Ineos||James Ratcliffe (UK)|
|Wanty||Wanty family (BE)|
|Gobert Matériaux||Gobert family (BE)|
|Israel Cycling Academy||Sylvan Adams (CA)|
|Start Up Nation||Paul Singer (US)|
|Lotto||Government of Belgium (BE)|
|Soudal||Swerts family (BE)|
|BikeExchange||Andrew Ryan** (AU)|
|Jumbo||Van Eerd family (NL)|
|Trek||Burke family (US)|
|Segafredo||Massimo Zanetti (IT)|
|Emirates||Government of Dubai (AE)|
|*Data as of November 2021.
**Largest, not majority, shareholders.
The first thing that came to my mind while compiling these results was the sheer number of institutional investors (e.g., BlackRock, Vanguard) that are, indirectly, cycling sponsors. Five teams are ultimately owned by these institutions. Granted, I don’t see them making daily decision in the firms they own but they surely can exert their influence on how the company is run, especially if the dividends or growth forecasts don’t match their expectations. Movistar and Quick Step are examples of successful partnerships between cycling and these institutions. Cycling is extremely popular in South America, an important market for Movistar. And Quick Step’s brand recognition has certainly increased during this period.
The Government of France is not actually the majority owner of Française de Jeux (FDJ). The French national lottery operator has the French government as the largest but not the majority shareholder.
Royal DSM is the only firm directly owned by institutional investors. As an example, Movistar is owned by Telefonica which is in turn owned by institutional investors. DSM is directly owned by these types of entities.
Five governments are directly involved in the sport: three to increase the notoriety of their countries (Bahrain, Kazakhstan, and Dubai – United Arab Emirates) and two just due to the sheer passion of their people for the sport (France and Belgium). It is debatable, however, how much say the French government has in its sponsoring entity because, as seen above, they are the only government that does not have majority control over their sponsoring vehicle. The Belgian government fully owns Lotto, the Belgian National lottery operator.
Intermarché, Trek, Israel Cycling Academy, EasyPost and Start Up Nation present the most challenging analysis into the owners of these cycling sponsors:
- For Intermarché, based on the research, the ownership seems to be scattered, mainly consisting of French nationals;
- I didn’t find irrefutable proof that Trek still belongs to the Burke family (Richard Burke was one of the founders) but the connections to that family still seem quite strong in the present day. The same is true for EasyPost. There is news that the firm is preparing for its IPO which will make its ownership data more transparent. Anyway, Jarrett Streebin is listed as “Founder & CEO” which makes it pretty likely that he still has majority ownership of the firm.
- Sylvan Adams and Ron Baron are both listed as co-owners of Israel Cycling Academy but Sylvan Adams is reported to be the one that does most of the financial backing, thus he is considered as the owner in this exercise;
- Paul Singer, US hedge fund manager and founder of Elliott Management, is also the founder of Start Up Nation Central, a non-governmental organization “that builds bridges to Israeli innovation”, according to their website. Singer is the founder of this organization and seems to still have enough of a connection to it to be considered the top person of Start Up Nation Central.
Local and regional financial institutions are the main cycling sponsors in France thanks to sponsorships of AG2R and Groupama (insurance companies), and Cofidis (consumer credit firm).
The support of cycling in Belgium is strong, with three families directly sponsoring the sport through: Soudal, Wanty, and Gobert Matériaux.
The Agnelli family, owners of Juventus FC, are also the largest shareholder of Citroen due to the merger between Fiat Chrysler and the PSA Group (owners of, among other, Peugeot and Citroen). The Peugeot family, the French government, and the Chinese governments also have stakes in the firm.
Ineos has a very clear majority shareholder, so it’s very easy to pinpoint who is the individual that has been pouring the most more into the sport, in recent years.
There is only one majority owner from Italy and zero from Spain. This is concerning, in my opinion. These are two cycling powerhouses that, combined, sponsor one team. I believe the support for cycling is still alive and well in these countries but it is a point of concern if cycling cannot leverage the popularity of the sport into sponsorship deals that put more bikes on the road.