Malaysian executive buys QPR from Ecclestone

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LONDON (AP) - Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes completed his takeover of English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers on Thursday after buying out Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and former Renault F1 team principal Flavio Briatore.

Fernandes‘ Tune Group, which also includes budget airline AirAsia and F1’s Team Lotus, bought a 66 percent stake in the west London club for a reported $58 million.

“Football is a fantastic business if it is done well and a fantastic brand-building business for all the things that we do,” Fernandes said at QPR’s Loftus Road ground. “QPR is in a fantastic location and has huge potential to develop into something special.”

The 47-year-old Fernandes will become chairman of QPR while also serving as chief executive of AirAsia and team principal of Team Lotus. Fernandes will be joined on the board by joint Tune Group owner Kamarudin Bin Meranun, while Ecclestone is relinquishing control of QPR after five years as the majority owner.

Having previously tried to buy West Ham, Fernandes is not hiding his passion for QPR’s rivals in east London.

“Everyone knows I’ve followed West Ham all my life, but I’ve always had a soft spot for QPR,” he said. “Rangers were one of the first teams I watched as a child at Loftus Road.”

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, the wealthiest person in Britain, retains his 33 percent stake, while son-in-law Amit Bhatia returns to the role of vice chairman he left in May.

QPR is back in England’s top flight after a 15-year absence and avoiding relegation is the priority.

“My major issue is dampening down everybody’s enthusiasm that tomorrow everything is going to change,” Fernandes said. “This will take time.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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