Energy drinks giant Red Bull is set to enter professional road cycling after unveiling its intent to buy a controlling stake in Bora-Hansgrohe, the German-based WordTour team.
Red Bull, which has worked with Bora-Hansgrohe and its junior development team in recent years, filed a notice with Austria’s Federal Competition Authority that it is in the process of acquiring an “indirect” controlling interest in the team.
It will purchase a 51% stake in RD Pro Cycling GmbH & Co KG and RD Beteiligungs GmbH, the two companies that own and manage the Bora-Hansgrohe team.
The two companies are owned or controlled by team founder and manager Ralph Denk, his family, and other partners. Denk previously held the majority stake.
The GFCA said: “Entrepreneurs whose legal or economic interests are affected by the merger can bring in a written statement to the Federal Competition Authority or the Federal Cartel Prosecutor within 14 days from publication date.”
The merger between the companies is subject to confirmation from GFCA, with the process to end on January 26.
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Following the notice, the team issued a brief statement saying: “Red Bull is planning to expand its involvement in road cycling and is aiming for a partnership with Bora-Hansgrohe.
“By becoming a partner in team manager Ralph Denk’s operating company, Red Bull strives to complement the team’s portfolio of existing long-term main sponsors, who will remain on a long-term basis. The planned joint venture has been notified to the relevant antitrust authority.”
The cycling team was founded by Denk in 2009 and launched as a UCI Continental team, NetApp, for the 2010 season. It then progressed to ProContinental level in 2011 and in 2013, became NettApp-Endura, before being renamed Bora-Argon 18 in 2015.
On entering WorldTour level in 2017, the team was named Bora-Hansgrohe and signed then-world champion Peter Sagan. The team has since worked closely with Red Bull and uses the company’s athlete performance center in Thalgau, Austria.
Its junior development team, meanwhile, is named Red Bull Junior Brothers.
Should the merger go through, it will add to Red Bull’s investments in sport, which includes motor racing’s Formula 1 through the Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Alpha Tauri teams, soccer’s RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg and New York Red Bulls, and ice hockey’s EC Salzburg.