Canadian fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll has emerged as the head of a consortium of investors with a rescue deal for the financially capped but highly competitive Force India F1 team.
Force India entered administration on July 27, a process similar to bankruptcy protection, following a court decision prompted by action brought by current driver Sergio Perez and other creditors.
An administrator overseeing the process, Geoff Rowley, confirmed Tuesday that Stroll, the billionaire father of current Williams driver Lance Stroll (shown below), together with fellow investors had come up with a rescue deal that will see all creditors paid in full and Force India's 405 staff retained.
The fellow investors include Stroll Snr's business partner Silas Chou, as well as Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman, John Idol, John McCaw Jr and Michael de Picciotto.
“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,” Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer for the Silverstone-based squad, told Reuters in an interview published Wednesday. “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.”
The move is a major coup for Stroll Snr and his fellow investors as it pushes out Force India's current owner Vijay Mallya. The embattled businessman, who had a 42.5 percent stake in the team prior to the administration process, is currently involved in a series of financial scandals with authorities back in his native India, primarily concerning his failed Kingfisher Airlines venture. He is seeking to sell assets worth about $2 billion to repay creditors, Reuters reported.
Despite its financial struggles in recent years, Force India has proven to be a formidable team. It has consistently outperformed more experienced teams such as McLaren and Williams, and it ranked fourth in the Constructors' Championship the past two seasons. It ranks sixth in the current season.
Though it's yet to be confirmed, it's likely Stroll Jr will leave his seat at Williams to join a rebranded Force India in the near future. Perez will likely stay with the team considering he triggered the administration process. Force India's other driver, Esteban Ocon, might end up at Williams due to his close ties with Mercedes-AMG, which supplies power units to Williams. Stay tuned.