Tuesday, January 5, 2010

West Ham Takeover Speculation: The Three Qualities Tony Fernandes Brings To The Club

West Ham takeover speculation dominates the early period of the January transfer window. Logical really, when you think about it. We do need the fresh injection of cash to be able to put together bids for a striker, rightback and central defender right?

Being a Malaysian myself, it fills me with pride and excitement knowing that a Malaysian could be on the brink of bidding and owning a historical and well-known English football club like West Ham United. That man is Tony Fernandes.

In 2008, Forbes Asia valued Fernandes' personal wealth at US$220 million ranking him at 15th on the Forbes list of Malaysia's Richest.

Born in Kuala Lumpur to a Goan father and Malacca Portuguese mother, Anthony Francis Fernandes is the son of the late Stephen Edward Fernandes, and Ena Dorothy Fernandez. When he was young, he used to follow his mother, a businesswoman, to Tupperware dealer parties and conventions.

He was educated at Epsom College 1977-83 and then graduated from the London School of Economics in 1987. He worked very briefly with Virgin Atlantic as an auditor, subsequently becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson's Virgin Records in London from 1987 to 1989.

The AirAsia Group CEO has been a rising star ever since he came back to Malaysia to become the youngest ever managing director of Warner Music. He then decided to go into the aviation industry realising a teenaged dream of owning an airline. With a unique brand of openness, innovation and a never-say-die attitude, he has grown the AirAsia brand into a global brand, In 2005, AirAsia made it to Forbes’ annual listing of the “Best under a Billion” companies in Asia.

With the motto “Believe the Unbelievable, Dream the Impossible and Don’t Take No for An Answer”, Tony Fernandes and his team has revolutionized and led AirAsia to be an Amazing World Class, Home Grown Airline.

So what will you get with Tony Fernandes? There are three qualities that he will bring to the club.

1. Visionary Entrepreneurial Skills
This man is a marketing genius. With his proven track record in innovative business strategies, sponsorship and alternative revenue streams will build up the money books in West Ham. US multinational, GE were sponsors of his fledgling ASEAN Basketball League project. This is what Chairman and CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt said of Tony Fernandes,
“GE is a great believer in Tony and his leadership. We invest in people and vision,”
He can bring new business ideas and creative marketing strategies to boost the West Ham coffers. Fernandes has all the experience and know-how in brand building much like his former boss, Sir Richard Branson.

The many diverse business ventures that Tony has entered will also benefit West Ham from a brand exposure perspective.
Tony has entered business ventures aside from AirAsia. Tony also leads Tune Group, which currently includes Tune Hotels, a no-frills hotel chain that offers "5-star beds at 1-star prices;" Tune Sports, which runs the ASEAN Basketball League; Tune Money, which caters to the financial needs of the underserved market at affordable prices; and Tune Talk, a mobile phone service that offers the lowest flat rate for calls. Tune Group also has an investment in 1Malaysia F1 Team to support the 1Malaysia initiative and to provide an avenue for Malaysia to advance in the global sports scene.
2. A Winning Attitude
It goes without saying that, though Tony Fernandes may have had an above average upbringing, he is a winner in every sense of the word. Awards and accolades follow the man.
In recognition of his contribution to the Malaysian music industry, he received the title ‘Setia Mahkota Selangor’ from Duli Yang Maha Mulia DiPertuan Agong, Sultan Salahudin Abdul Aziz Shah in 1993 and in 1997, the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia has honored him with ‘Recording Industry Person of the Year 1997’.

In July 2005, Tony was conferred the Darjah Datuk Paduka Tuanku Ja’afar (DPTJ) which carries the title Dato’ by the Negeri Sembilan’s Yang DiPertuan Besar Tuanku Ja’afar Tuanku Abdul Rahman in conjunction with His Majesty’s 83rd birthday in recognition of his services rendered to the betterment of the nation and community.

Tony joins the ranks of 237 of the world’s elite leaders in ‘Young Global Leaders’, an organization for individuals who have committed their knowledge and expertise to engage in major global undertakings to shape the future. Tony is the recipient of the International Herald Tribune award for the Visionaries & Leadership Series, for his outstanding work in AirAsia.

In Dec 2003, Tony was named “Malaysian Chief Executive Officer of the Year 2003” by American Express and Business Times. In 2004, he garnered the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year – Malaysia 2003 Award by Ernst & Young, and was also named Asia Pacific Aviation Executive by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) for the year of 2004-2005.

Recognized for his unique leadership and entrepreneurial skills, Tony was named BusinessWeek’s 25 Stars of Asia in 2004. In 2005, AirAsia made it to Forbes’ annual listing of the “Best under a Billion” companies in Asia. Most recently Tony was named the winner of Airline Business Strategy Award for Regional and Low Cost Leadership by Airline Business and the Master Entrepreneur category of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Malaysia 2006. He also bagged the 2006/07 ‘The Brand Laureate’ Brand Personality for his exemplary performance, dedication and contribution towards the aviation industry in Malaysia.
On the 24th November 2009,
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes received today the Orient Aviation Person of the Year for 2009 award for successfully leading AirAsia, which has in only eight years grown to become the world's best low-cost airline and Asia's largest.
A motivated and driven man, Tony Fernandes is a pioneering winner who is not afraid to take calculated risks.

3. Feverish enthusiasm of being a self-confessed West Ham fan
Fernandes have publicly declared his love for the Irons during numerous interviews.

CNN Talk Asia: You actually have pictures of some of the Man U stars on your planes. How much of this was based on the fact that you're a fan of Man U?
Tony Fernandes: Actually I hate Manchester United. It was a very painful decision to sponsor them. But we all have to be a prostitute once in a while. I sort of side for West Ham United which is a great training ground for adversity, 'cause they're always doing badly. But you know, hey, they're the biggest football club and the biggest brand, sports brand.

While launching the ASEAN Basketball League, he had this to say about being a fan,
"I think fans can look forward to tough competition, high standard of play, exciting competitions at half-time, audience participation, and a chance to travel to watch sport," said Fernandes. "You know, when I grew up, I spent a lot of time in England, and we'll be excited to go off to Manchester at the weekend to watch the world's greatest team in the world, West Ham play."
Fans are not ideally the best owners of a club, example Mike Ashley! However, with Fernandes there is a subtle difference as he is never going to let emotions rule over a feasible business strategy. The end strategy of course, is to evolve West Ham United into THE best club in the English Premier League.

Needless to say, Tony Fernandes is the choice for all Hammer fans looking for a significant change in West Ham fortunes. If British newspaper reports are to be believed, he has since met with West Ham chairman, Andrew Bernhardt and also Zola to understand if this venture is worth the risk (after all it is a £100m business decision). Fernandes is also someone who cares about the club and its future, hence the general feeling is that he will not be looking to sell the club's prized assets.

At the time of writing also, the Birmingham duo of Sullivan and Gold are on the verge of succeeding with their 50% takeover bid as reported in the Sunday Mercury. And yet, perhaps there will be some last minute changes.

A Malaysian owning a Premier League club? Wow, how times have changed....mind blowing indeed. Now if England wins the World Cup in South Africa, life would be just perfect!

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch West Ham United, i have bought tickets from
http://ticketfront.com/event/West_Ham_United-tickets looking forward to it.

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