F1: Stroll leads rescue deal for Force India team

Sergio Perez
The Force India team went into administration at the end of last month, with Mexican driver Sergio Perez triggering the process. File photo: AFP

London: The Force India Formula One team will come out of administration after a rescue deal involving a consortium of investors led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, administrators and management said in a statement on Tuesday.

They said creditors would be paid in full and all 405 jobs at the Silverstone-based team, that was co-owned by embattled Indian businessman Vijay Mallya and finished fourth last year, were safe.

Stroll is the father of Williams Formula One driver Lance.

Apart from Stroll, the investors were named as Canadian entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman, John Idol, telecoms investor John McCaw Jr, Michael de Picciotto and Stroll's business partner Silas Chou.

"This outcome secures the future of the Force India team in Formula One and will allow our team of racers to compete to our full potential," said the team's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer.

"I am delighted that we have the support of a consortium of investors who believe in us as a team and who see the considerable business potential that Force India has within F1 now and in the future."

Force India's driver line-up is Mexican Sergio Perez and Mercedes-backed Frenchman Esteban Ocon but Stroll, 19, now looks likely to move from Williams next season given his father's involvement.

Joint administrator Geoff Rowley said funding to support the team would be made available immediately with "significantly more" once the company emerged from administration.

He expected that to be within two to three weeks, with the team set to compete at the next race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on August 26.

"It is rare that a company can be rescued and returned to a position of solvency," Rowley said in the statement.

"The quality of the various interested parties has been impressive and required careful consideration as the administration has progressed.

"Having followed a robust process, in the end we were left with a highly-credible offer to save the company and restore solvency."

The team went into administration at the end of last month, with Perez triggering the process.

The Mexican had said he was owed more than $4 million as part of sponsorship deals brought to the team, while engine provider Mercedes was due some 13 million euros ($15.15 million). Leading sponsor BWT was also involved.

Force India’s problems have been well-documented, with Mallya fighting an attempt by India to extradite him from Britain to face charges of fraud, which he denies.

A group of Indian banks are seeking to recover more than $1 billion of loans granted to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

Mallya has decried a “political witchhunt” and has said he is seeking to sell assets worth about 139 billion rupees ($2.03 billion) to repay creditors.

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