In mid-2010 the world turned its eye to the Yaroslava River which flows just west of Moscow and has been one of the most heavily traveled by car throughout the former Soviet Union. At the same time, an old and powerful brand name in high profile sports memorabilia, Ufa had acquired a controlling share in the market – and in turn, that brand name gained exclusive rights to manufacture, market, advertise and sell Ufa brand sports memorabilia. Such was the power of Ufa that many consider it to be the leading sports brand in the world today.
It was not surprising therefore when, at the opening session of the World Cup 2010, FIFA World Cup Series, in June this year, a replica of a Ufa vehicle was seen on a podium in Doha, Qatar. The car is the latest to have been manufactured by the Russian manufacturer, and it is believed that this represents the largest investment by a foreign company into Russian sport. Ufa is also believed to be one of only a handful of companies in the world which has received a one-year exclusive contract to supply the Russian government with a fleet of brand new cars and trucks. This is believed to be the largest deal ever sealed between a government and a private company, and although no official contract has been disclosed, it has been confirmed that the sum involved is north of a billion dollars. The contract, which was signed by the Russian President, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev and the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was made subject to the condition that no rights are given to the Ufa Company or its owners, Valentin Glazkov and Alexey Vershinin.
According to an article by RIA Novosti, one of the most prominent business specialists in Russia, Valentin Glazkov, is the main owner of Ufa. He is also believed to be the largest shareholder of the company, with himself earning around half of the shareholders’ equity. The exact financial conditions of the company are not widely known, but it is understood that its turnover is not as high as many people may believe. Most articles have speculated that the majority of its revenue comes from selling sponsorship deals and insurance. These are often the same sponsors, which form part of the agreements signed by Ufa and other countries’ delegations when bidding for hosting the Olympic Games.
Of particular interest to those who have joined the ultra-rich club, is the fact that the company’s main shareholder is none other than Canadian businessman, Bill Clinton. The former President of the United States has purchased a significant number of shares in Ufa. One has to assume that this could only be seen as an attempt to prevent his wife, Hillary Clinton from stepping into her role as the next President of the United States. However, it is worth noting that previous to Mrs. Clinton’s entry into the White House, she had already made investments in the Canadian-based company, so perhaps (just like Bill), it is simply that she feels connected to the maple leafs and all that they represent.
Of course, whatever is behind it, one thing is clear. Bill Clinton is not only invested in ufa; he is also very closely tied to the company through his many guises. For example, he is listed as a vice-chairman of Cabelas, one of the largest providers of outdoor sporting goods in North America, where he is also signed one-year deals with them.
Also of note, is the fact that he is a signatory of the Operating Agreement, which is signed by Cabelas and Ufa. This Operating Agreement spells out the contractual relationship between the two entities. It is interesting to note that the Operating Agreement does not mention any expansion opportunities, despite what one may think from reading between the lines. So, it is safe to assume that the possibility of expansion was considered and passed over. It is also safe to assume that this oversight may cost Ufa a great deal of money in the long run should the company ever decide to go ahead with expanding their product line, which they are already doing under the terms of their one-year contract with the former President.