13. Jahm Najafi

Age 59
Net worth $3,5bn
Source of wealth Najafi Companies
Nationality Iranian/American
F1 involvement Team shareholder

Jahm Najafi is the Chief Executive of the Najafi Companies, a private equity firm established in 2002 and based in Phoenix.

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He is also the vice-chairman of the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns.

Interestingly Najafi invests his own money free from outside investors and thus moves quickly and decisively without the requirement to make investors a quick return.

Najafi, who arrived in the US from Iran not speaking a word of English, has not forgotten his humble beginnings and is a founding partner of Social Venture Partners Arizona, a pooled, philanthropic fund that “invests” in emerging non-profit organizations.

In December 2020, Najafi became involved in Formula 1 when he joined forces with MSP Sports Capital and UBS O’Connor LLC to invest $248.5m into the McLaren F1 team, giving them an initial 15% shareholding rising to 33% at the end of 2022.

Najafi was appointed as vice-chairman of McLaren Racing. The other vice-chair is held by Bahrain investor Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa.

Najafi effectively gets two bites of the cherry as he is also a partner in MSP Sports Capital which was formed in 2019 by Jeff Moorad, the sports agent.

Najafi confirmed that he had been looking to invest in F1 for a “few years” and had considered both Force India and the Williams teams.

He and Moorad have come to the conclusion F1 is an excellent opportunity, with Moorad commenting, “We believe that Liberty’s business plan of creating more franchise-like values on the teams are going to flow in part from the cost cap.

“All of these pieces of a thoughtful business plan will ultimately create franchise values for each team in the sport.

“That is our bet, to be frank. We’re betting on the long-term future of Formula One.”

Najafi has traditionally been a low-profile billionaire, but as with his McLaren investment, he has stepped into the limelight when in 2020, inspired by the racial injustice protests, he formed Mission Advancement, a unique acquisition company, along with NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

What influence does Jahm Najafi have in F1?

A reasonable amount as his investment into McLaren was as much a vote of confidence in Liberty Media’s strategy as it was for the McLaren team.

F1 needs investors committed to the medium-term to give its business plan a fighting chance.

In a bit of Hollywood razmataz that never goes a miss in F1, Moorad appeared in and served as a technical consultant for Jerry Maguire’s film.

Moorad was the inspiration behind the Jerry Maguire character played by Tom Cruise with a catchphrase suitable for F1, “Show me the money.”

The last word goes to Najafi, who, on completion of the McLaren deal, said, “How can you not be an F1 fan?”

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