AP Auto Racing Writer
The motorsports marketing company founded by the top candidate to become the next CEO of IndyCar is for sale.
Zak Brown informed the staff of Just Marketing Inc. by letter this weekend that Spire Capital Partners is trying to sell its 60 percent stake in the company. A copy of the letter, obtained Sunday by The Associated Press, told employees a potential sale is "completely unrelated" to IndyCar's courting of Brown.
"The fact Spire is actively exploring options for the sale of its investment in JMI is not a surprise to any of us, as we have always acknowledged this is Spire's ultimate intention and purpose as a private equity firm," Brown wrote.
Spire purchased 60 percent of Zionsville, Ind.-based JMI in 2008. Brown, the founder and CEO, and still owns 20 percent, as does advertising agency WPP.
Brown told employees Spire is only in the "exploratory process" and it's business as usual at JMI.
"There is no immediate timeline in place for a transaction to occur and no guarantee that one will occur in the near future," Brown wrote. "JMI's leadership and employees continue to be focused on providing excellent service to our clients and continue to grow our business."
Mark Miles, the new head of IndyCar parent company Hulman & Co., acknowledged during last weekend's season-opener at St. Pete that Brown is a candidate to replace Randy Bernard as CEO of the open-wheel series. He said discussions with Brown are the most serious of all candidates, but Brown has to decide if he's interested in the position or wants to concentrate on JMI.
"He's got a complicated life that he's got to sort out, and we've also got to do our due diligence," Miles said. "We continue to learn about each other and how we think, and he can speak for himself -- he's got other interests, and this isn't a part-time gig. So we've got to see."
Brown did not immediately reply to a request for comment Sunday.
JMI does a large share of its business in Formula One, and Brown is often in Europe overseeing those deals. He was recently considering a full-time move to London to concentrate on his F1 clients, but said last week he was in discussions with Miles.
"I have a lot of passion for IndyCar and I'm getting to know Mark," Brown told AP. "We are exploring to see if there's a way to work together. It's a great product and I'm positive I could contribute to its growth and success."
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