RACE board movement raises questions about Rogers shareholding
Monday 20th February, 2023 - 4:11pm
A departure from the board of the company which owns Supercars has raised questions about the Rogers’ shareholding.
Speedcafe.com has learnt that John McMellan stepped down as a director of Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises Ltd (RACE) in recent weeks.
McMellan had been a key player in Australian motorsport through not only his RACE involvement, but also his 20 percent ownership stake (as at November 2022) in the Australian Racing Group and as a director of that company also.
Barry Rogers, too, is a director of and shareholder in ARG, with his stake growing to 75 percent, late last year.
UPDATE: Rogers reaffirms commitment to Supercars stake
McMellan’s departure from RACE leaves a board of directors of whom none could be described as ARG/Rogers-aligned, and comes at a time when the split between ARG and the other parties behind Supercars/RACE has if not grown, then apparently solidified.
What is now understood to be a board of four on RACE are QMS Media Chairman Barclay Nettlefold, private equity figure Stephen Macaw (of Henslow), six-time Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Skaife, and property developer Jure Domazet.
Another ARG figure, namely Sydney property magnate Brian Boyd, had also been a director of RACE until midway through last year, with his exit roughly coinciding with the sale of his 15 percent share in the company around August 2022.
A statement from RACE at the time confirmed that a sale representing a “consolidation” of shareholdings had taken place, as well as the fact which had come to light that ARG did not ever own any RACE shares directly, but rather that “individual shareholders that may be regarded as related parties of ARG” did so.
That is, a combined 30 percent stake which had been referred to as the ‘ARG share’ was in fact 15 percent stakes each owned by Boyd and by Garry and Barry Rogers.
With Boyd out of the picture at RACE, that left just McMellan as a director and the Rogers as a shareholder, in terms of ARG involvement.
Earlier this month, reports emerged that ARG had split from Supercars Media, which had been producing the SpeedSeries coverage which is streamed live and ad-free on Stan Sport.
Whether that development is related to the McMellan move or not is unclear.
However, one theory which has been put to Speedcafe.com is that Rogers has sold out of RACE and hence no longer has rights to place a director on the board.
Calls from Speedcafe.com to Barry Rogers went unanswered as at time of publication.
The Rogers’ RACE shares became a talking point last year, not only because of the Boyd sale but also because Garry Rogers quite explicitly emailed teams to inform that their shares were “up for sale”, according to an email obtained by Speedcafe.com.
They have long expressed unhappiness with the fragmented state of Australian motorsport, lamenting the failure of a ‘whole of motorsport’ approach to come to fruition after RACE had rejected a takeover offer from a European-based sports media and entertainment organisation.
However, whether that approach, of combining ARG categories with Supercars events in a single platform, could have made commercial sense is questionable.
One figure within Supercars cited the cost of displacing its regular support categories in deference to ARG’s offering as a serious hurdle, while it is also apparent that the Rogers wished to use the goodwill of the Supercars brand for an expanded calendar of events despite the Supercars Championship itself not necessarily appearing at all of those 18 events (a figure which Garry Rogers suggested in an above referred to email).
Interestingly, ARG/Motorsport Australia was allowed to double-book Sandown on the weekend on which this year’s 500km Supercar enduro will take place, despite party/ies connected to ARG sitting on the Supercars Board and hence having knowledge of its tentative booking before the SpeedSeries calendar was announced.
Both the Supercars and ARG/SpeedSeries campaigns step up this week, with the former’s official pre-season test on Wednesday at Sydney Motorsport Park and the latter’s opening round of the year at Symmons Plains from Friday.
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