Peter Sauber has put the first stage of his succession plan in place by transferring one third of the shares in his Formula 1 team to CEO Monisha Kaltenborn, citing the desire to retain “continuity” for the Hinwil outfit into the long term.
Indian-born Kaltenborn has been with the Hinwil-based outfit for over a decade having initially joined to head up its legal department but has was given a front-line chief role by Sauber when the veteran retook control of his eponymous team at the end of 2009 following BMW’s sudden pull-out, becoming Formula 1’s first female chief executive. Sauber has already said he sees the 41-year-old as his successor as team principal when he retires for the second time and today has underlined the faith and trust he has in her by transferring 33% of the long-established operation into her name. Sauber retains the remaining two thirds of equity in the Sauber Group.
The 68-year-old was badly stung by the experiences of late 2009 when, four years on from selling the team he founded to BMW in the belief that this would ensure its long-term future, he felt morally obliged to step back into the breach when the German carmaker pulled out of F1. Sauber says Kaltenborn played a key role in that process and, given she shares his vision for the future of the team, he wanted to reflect that and recognise it in the ownership structure.
“When BMW pulled out of Formula One in 2009, Monisha Kaltenborn was instrumental in the team’s survival and since then she has been doing outstanding work in her capacity as CEO,” said Sauber in a statement. “Transferring one third of the stake to her represents an important step for me in providing continuity. My desire is to ensure that the company continues to be led as I would want over the long term. Monisha Kaltenborn and my son Alex, who joined the company as Marketing Director in 2010 and has since also been a member of the Board of Management, both embrace this aim. It means we can offer our employees a positive outlook for the future.”
Given the transfer appears to have been a gift rather than having a financial element, the gesture is considerable given 33% of Sauber is likely to be worth a minimum of £20 million. Kaltenborn herself has said: “For me this step is a mark of the greatest possible trust, which I will do everything in my power to justify.”
After overcoming initial financial and on-track struggles on his return to the team owner hotseat, Sauber has seen his team make back steady progress back up the grid and at the Malaysian GP in March Sergio Perez’s claimed the team’s best ever race finish of second under his sole control.