Billionaire Owen Glenn buys into Warriors
Kiwi billionaire Owen Glenn has taken a stake in the New Zealand Warriors on the eve of the club's opening premiership match of the season on Sunday against Manly at Eden Park.
The news follows a meeting last night in Auckland between Glenn, Warriors major shareholder Eric Watson and NRL chief executive David Gallop, who missed the season opening clash in Newcastle to attend.
At an announcement today, Glenn and Watson revealed they would split the team's ownership 50-50.
Watson, who flew in from London, bought out the minority shareholders in the club before completing the deal with Glenn.
He said he was delighted at this new chapter of the Warriors' history.
"The special announcement we have today is about Owen and myself forming a joint venture, the assets will include 100 percent ownership of the warriors, which we're very excited about," Watson said.
"We're excited about the Warriors full stop. It's been a great decade, in fact this is my 12th year of being involved with the Warriors and every year I say the same thing, this year we're going to win it.
"Last year was fantastic on a number of fronts, particularly making the grand final, but also the Junior Warriors doing so well, two consecutive grand finals.
"One of the reasons why Owen has joined with me to make this investment is to grow that part of the business. The big emphasis over the last few years has been to develop players from throughout New Zealand.
"Owen and I have had several business interest together and we enjoy working together.
"We both see the Warriors investment an ongoing investment to accelerate the amount of money we've been spending, which over the last four or five years has been $5m in the Junior Warriors. We'll at least double that over the next four or five years and build the franchise so that we have ongoing success at a senior level.
"The opportunity is significant and I'm delighted to have Owen join me in ownership of this franchise.
"We've always been in strong financial shape and we'll be even more so with a partner like this one board.
"We haven't quite fulfilled our goal of winning an NRL title for New Zealand but I'n confident we'll achieve that."
With the financial backing of Glenn it could lead to the club approaching the salary cap for players, but there seemed to be little interest in trying to recruit Sonny Bill Williams although Watson said he wanted the club to be focussed on recruiting New Zealand players rather than those from overseas.
"This club is about developing New Zealand players, we don't need to buy journeyman Australian players," Watson said.
It is thought Glenn may have purchased his shareholding from Watson's business partner Mark Hotchin, who has financial problems due to the collapse of the Hanover Group.
It was reported in the week leading up to last year's grand final, that Glenn - estimated to be worth $1.1billion - was keen to buy into the Warriors.
The club ownership was split, with 75.5 per cent owned by Serious Holdings, ownership of which can be traced back to Watson and a Channel Islands trustee company. The remainder is held by a trust, which lists its only shareholder as Hotchin's lawyer, Tony Thomas.
WHO IS OWEN GLENN?
Glenn was raised a British subject in India, attending a boarding school in the Himalayas until his family immigrated to New Zealand when he was 11.
He lived in Monaco for many years but told Fairfax Media last year he was moving to Sydney to be near three of his six children.
In January it was announced that he had sold the company he founded, OTS Logistics Group, to a London-based private equity group.
A provider of logistics services, OTS had a turnover of more than US$700 million in 2010. Based in Los-Angeles, it operates in more than 100 countries and has at least 2,800 employees.
Glenn, who is in his 70s, is well-known for his philanthropy and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008.
He donated $7.5 million to the University of Auckland Business School, which named a new building after him, and gave $3.85 million to the Millennium sporting institute, which named an aquatic centre after him.
He leapt into the headlines in 2008 after Winston Peters told parliament he had never received political donations from Glenn, who came back to this country to give his side of the story.
The privileges committee found Peters misled Parliament by not declaring a donation of $100,000 from Glenn, and in September 2008 Peters was censured by Parliament in a motion opposed by Labour and NZ First.