Low budget pioneer Tony Fernandes takes over at QPR
Malaysian businessman and Tune Group chairman, Tony Fernandes completed his takeover of Queen Park Rangers buying out Bernie Ecclestone and Flavia Briatore’s stake. He now controls 66% of the share while 33% belongs to the Mittal family who’ve made their fortune in mining and metals.
Fernandes’s pioneering venture into low budget travel opened up the market to millions of Asians who could not afford to fly the expensive state owned airlines. His Air Asia modeled on low cost carrier Ryanair and JetBlue, offered no frills services and plenty of connections within Malaysia and between Thailand and Indonesia. Within 5 years of his Air Asia takeover Fernandes saw revenue grow 18% year-on-year to $562 million with a profit of $131m. He was able to cut costs of operating an airplane to 3.52 U.S. cents per available seat-kilometer, the lowest in the world. Forbes named him as Asian Businessman of the year in 2010 for changing the face of air travel in Asia.
Sports plays a huge part in Fernandes’s life and as Tunes Group chairman he also owns Lotus Racing and has just launched the first professional basketball league in South East Asia. The QPR takeover is not out of leftfield as Fernandes, although a West Ham supporter (the Hammers at this point would gladly trade owners) spent time watching the Rangers play while growing up in England. His interests also include music where he first made his mark as an executive in Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and then as head of Warner Music’s SE Asia operations.
This is probably a good fit for QPR if you apply a low budget business model to Fernandes’s high impact vision. There will be money in the QPR coffers obviously nothing close to City’s blank checks but enough for one or two high priced signings that could be enough to keep them in the top flight and in a position to challenge for bigger goals in the seasons to come.