Luxembourg likes to play up its safe, secure image but it still hankers after a splash of colour. Luxembourg-born Spaniard Gerard Lopez provides this, as one of the few internationally important asset managers based in Luxembourg. He has also attracted global attention by investing in Formula 1, an activity which he insists is much more than “boys toys.”
A star is born
His first success came riding the dotcom boom with investments in the company which eventually spawned the popular web development application Dreamweaver. He co-founded Mangrove Capital Partners in 2000, and his life changed after investing one-third of the start up capital investment in Skype netted the firm over $1bn sale to Ebay two years later. Mangrove now has over $1.5bn invested around the world in around 60 firms at different stages of development in a wide range of industries. His other company Genii takes shares in exchange for consultancy services across the globe in diverse businesses ranging from automotive to health care.
He has said furthering these interests is a key reason for his ownership and chairmanship of the Lotus/Renault Formula 1 Team. This gives him access to hundreds of global decision makers (even including the likes of Vladimir Putin, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the Malaysian prime minister…) He is now said to be discussing taking full control of the Lotus group. There is also the bonus of having the Genii logo seen by around two billion TV viewers 20 times a year. He also explains how this involvement gives him access to world-class automotive engineers, insights he hopes to translate to the car manufacturing industry.
Good or bad sign for Luxembourg?
Of course, Lopez is also involved thanks to his love of sport, as proved by his backing for Esch-based football club Fola. He also has local business interests, including backing the now probably aborted Livange football and shopping complex. Some hold up Lopez’s presence here as a hope of attracting more foreign private equity and hedge fund managers to move here. Yet at the moment this local-boy is the exception, apparently underlining how far the country has to go.