The administrators for the Force India Formula 1 team have accepted a bid from a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll.
Force India has been in administration since the Friday before the Hungarian Grand Prix as parties involved sought to protect it against the threat of a winding-up order over mounting debts.
It was confirmed on Tuesday evening that a consortium, led by Stroll, had been assembled with the assistance of Force India’s chief operations officer Otmar Szafnauer and the team's senior management.
A deal has agreed with the joint administrators, appointed by FRP Advisory, to return the team to solvency.
Stroll’s fellow investors are Canadian entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman of Monaco Sports and Management, fashion business leader John Idol, telecommunications investor John McCaw Jr, financial expert Michael de Picciotto, and Stroll’s business partner Silas Chou.
Force India’s creditors will be paid in full, all 405 jobs at the team have been saved and ongoing funding has been guaranteed.
The new set-up, which signed an exclusivity agreement on Tuesday, takes over ownership of the team from Vijay Mallya and Orange India Holdings Sarl.
“This outcome secures the future of the Force India team in Formula 1 and will allow our team of racers to compete to our full potential,” said 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.
“At Force India, our expertise and commitment has meant that we have always punched above our weight and this new investment ensures that we have a bright future ahead of us.
“I also would like to thank Vijay, the Sahara Group and the Mol family for all of their support and taking the team as far as their circumstances would allow.”
Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images
Stroll had been linked with investing in Force India for some time and its need for a new owner presented an opportunity to become more directly involved.
He has been backing Williams through support for his son Lance, who has driven for the British team since making his F1 debut last season.
Several other parties had expressed interest, including two US consortiums and a British firm.
“It is rare that a company can be rescued and returned to a position of solvency,” said joint administrator Geoff Rowley.
“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.
“Funding to support the team will be made available from today, and significantly more will be available once the company emerges from administration which we expect within the next two to three weeks.”
Now that a bid has been accepted the administrator will look to confirm finer details, including finalising the agreement to buy the team and agree elements like the contract to use Mercedes engines transferring to the new company.
The team has owed money to several creditors, notably Mercedes and driver Sergio Perez, who used this to trigger the action that led to Force India being put into administration at the request of senior members of the team.
Force India needs the change of ownership to be completed so it can commission suppliers to produce upgraded parts, which will be crucial in its championship battle.
The team is currently sixth in the constructors’ contest, seven points behind Haas and 23 behind fourth-placed Renault.
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- Formula 1