16. Michael Latifi

michael_latifi
Age 58
Net worth $2,5bn
Source of wealth Sofina Foods
Nationality Iranian/Canadian
F1 involvement Team shareholder, Sponsor

Michael Latifi is the owner, Chairman, and CEO of Sofina Foods, one of Canada’s largest food groups comprising nine different brands.

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The group has the grand vision to ‘be the most successful food company in the world’, although I am not sure the powers to be at Nestle will have sleepless nights just yet!

In 2007 Latifi established the Sofina foundation supporting causes relating to children’s issues.

In August 2020, he purchased the 317ft $200m superyacht Faith complete with cinema, spa, and swimming pool from fellow Canadian F1 billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

Latifi first became involved in Formula 1 back in 2018 when through his investment company Nidala (BVI), he purchased 10% of McLaren for $260m.

In 2018 Latifi said, “I have been an admirer of the McLaren brand and its businesses for some time.

“McLaren is a unique organisation in automotive, racing, and technology with exciting long-term growth prospects, which is why I have made this investment.”

What had prompted this response was not so much CEO Zak Brown’s vision but the part flotation of Ferrari in 2015, which had placed a valuation of $52bn on the prancing horses.

Latifi calculated McLaren could start to emulate the Italian company, and he thought he was investing at the start of something big.

Alas, in 2021, his 10% shareholding has been diluted to 6%, and after further fundraising rounds, he is looking at the shareholding being effectively written off altogether.

Then we come to Williams, where Latifi started sponsoring the team in 2019, securing the reserve driver role for his son Nicholas.

In 2020 the value of the deal was increased with the obligatory race seat handed to Nicholas.

Williams had a challenging time financially. In April 2020, Latifi came to the team’s rescue during the pandemic with an extension of his $62m line of credit with a loan of $22m through his Latrus Racing company.

The loan was secured against the team’s headquarters, its race entry, and much of its fleet of historic F1 cars.

We believe Latifi was lining up a bid to buy the team, which was put up for sale in May, but in August, the team was sold to American investment fund Dorilton Capital with Latifi’s loan being repaid in full.

Sofina foods have continued its sponsorship of Williams. There is no surprise Nicholas retained his drive for 2021, but the future remains uncertain for the Canadian and his father.

What influence does Michael Latifi hold in F1?

Well, as a sponsor to a team sadly trailing at the back end of the grid, tiny, but this could all change if he decides to ‘aka stroll and a consortium’ purchase a team to ensure his son’s career continues – the most likely target being Sauber.

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