The Force India Formula One team have been rescued from administration by a consortium of investors led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, the father of sought-after Williams driver Lance Stroll.
The Silverstone-based outfit was faced with the threat of a winding up order ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix after Sergio Perez, one of their own drivers, brought legal action against the team over his unpaid salary. That resulted in the team entering administration on 27th July with the aim of finding new owners who could service the team’s debts.
Under the terms of the takeover agreement, which was signed on Tuesday, the new investors will ensure that all creditors will be paid in full and that all 405 jobs with Force India are secured.
Other members of the Stroll-led consortium include 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 Force India’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 Formula One now and in the future.”
Joint administrator Geoff Rowley said that the consortium will provide funding to support the team immediately with “significantly more” to follow once the company emerges from administration, which is expected to be within the next two to three weeks. The lack of financial backing so far this year has meant that Force India, who currently sit sixth in the constructors’ championship, have experienced delays relating to new car parts and other equipment.
"It is rare that a company can be rescued and returned to a position of solvency,” added 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. All creditors will be paid in full, all jobs will be preserved, and the team will have significant funding to invest in its future.”
The news ends months of speculation over Force India’s future. Former joint owner Vijay Mallya has long been looking to sell the team while he continues to fight extradition back to his native India over charges relating to money laundering and banks demanding he pay back substantial loans granted to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya has denied all the charges levelled against him.
Stroll was first linked with a takeover at the end of last month, while sports drinks company Rich Energy was also rumoured on several occasions to be interested in buying the team.
The arrival of Stroll as an investor is also likely to see his son Lance get behind the wheel for Force India from 2019, although no details of future driver line-ups have been clarified at this stage.