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New investor group buys 35% stake in Lotus F1 team
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Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Jun 2013   |  3:57 pm GMT  |  85 comments

Lotus F1 boss Gerard Lopez has sold a 35% stake in the team to Infinity Racing, a consortium of investors with US and Middle Eastern backgrounds.

The team hopes that this investment will give the team the financial boost it needs to challenge current top dogs Red Bull and Ferrari for wins and championships.

Lopez’ Genii Capital concern will continue to hold a controlling stake of 65% in the team and Lopez remains as Chairman and his partner Eric Lux as a director.

Infinity’s chairman is Mansoor Ijaz and the deputy chairman is Suhail Al Dhaheri, CEO of the Abu Dhabi based Al Manhal Group, whose stated mission is “to establish itself as the premiere private 100% UAE company in the energy sector by developing, promoting and participating in energy and technology related projects.”

According to the statement from Lotus this afternoon,

“Infinity Racing is an investment consortium whose special purpose vehicle is comprised of private investors that include an American hedge fund manager, an Abu Dhabi-based multinational business group and royal family interests of a major oil producing nation.”

Lotus has been punching above its weight for the last two seasons under Lopez’ management, with victories in Abu Dhabi last year and Melbourne this year. Kimi Raikkonen finished third in last year’s world championship and is similarly well placed this year. However stories of cash flow issues are never far from the surface, some placed by rivals, other internal leaks.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, Lopez is about to float Wix, an Israeli based software company which makes easy to set up websites, on the Stock Market in a listing valuing the company at around $500 million.

This new investment is clearly strategic, opening the team to new markets in the US and the Middle East and to sponsorships. Sponsorship has been one area where the Genii Group has not been as successful as it had hoped to be.

“As Lotus F1 Team results have continued to improve every year, we have been waiting for the right investor who will help make the jump to the top spot in the Constructors’ Championship,” said Lux. “In Infinity Racing, we have found a partner with the right connections in addition to technological expertise and a global reach in major markets with key sponsors to achieve this goal.”

The team suffered the shock resignation of technical director James Allison recently, replaced by Nick Chester.

The team is negotiating for a supply of the new small capacity hybrid turbo F1 engines for 2014 with Renault its existing partner. The Infinity investment therefore comes at an important moment in the team’s development.

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85 Comments
  1. Michael S says:

    Great news for Lotus… I would actually prefer Kimi finish his career at Lotus. Red Bull is built for Seb and there is no reason for Kimi to run into that world with how well he is doing at Lotus.

    1. Chris says:

      Seb likes this!!!

      1. Michael S says:

        My two favorite drivers are Seb and Kimi. However, I am smart enough to know odds of walking into a team where a guy is on his way to title 4 is not good for Kimi. Yes, Kimi is fast, but the car is built around Seb at this point and Kimi is not getting any younger. I would prefer Lotus keep building a great car for Kimi.

    2. **Paul** says:

      I’d like to see Kimi in a Red Bull, it’s great to see people drive alongside top drivers, because it helps benchmark them, and the only true way to do that is vs their team mate.

      1. Michael S says:

        Yes, that would be the case if Kimi was a youngster again and had a few years to build the team around him. However, this team is so tied to Seb now it would be a huge hill to climb for Kimi or anyone else going there now…

        With that said, if Lotus look like they are going to put out junk next year then yes yes yes, Kimi needs to run not walk to RB.

  2. goferet says:

    Good news for Lotus, this is just the shot in the arm the team needed going forward.

    According to Lopez’s explanation, it seems the team has not been lacking in suitors, it’s just they were waiting for the perfect partner with the right connections in order to make this partnership work.

    But this new partnership, this may spell trouble for the troubled Grosjean for with these new investors coming in, it may mean the team may no longer need Grosjean’s Total money so it’s imperative, his form improves ASAP.

    Right, with Lotus having got their money worries out of the way, it’s time the team took the fight to the big boys for now, everybody is playing on a equal playing field.

    P.s.

    One can’t help but feel sorry for a certain Kubica for all this Lotus success should have been his taking into account the fact Kimi was slated to join Williams on his comeback.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Agreed.

      It’s a very real possibility that Kubica might have won a WDC by now had it not been for his accident.

      In the end I suppose it was his own decision to go rallying during the off season – that’s not a criticism of Robert, just an observation.

      1. LewisTheBest says:

        won a wdc by now??

        i find it laughable when people thinks kubica gonna achieve the same or even better thing than Kimi in a Lotus. Most overrated non wdc driver ever.

        Lotus is on a rise since Kimi comeback like it or not. The success was not kubica ‘s in the taking.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Overrated maybe, but rarely if ever underrated.

        I said it’s a possibility he might have won a WDC – nothing’s for certain and now unfortunately we’ll never know for sure.

        I do rate both Robert and Kimi very highly, but a lot of Lotus’s recent success is due to the whole team – not just one driver, no matter how good he may be.

      3. Anne says:

        Probably nothing would make me happier than Kimi and Kubica together in Lotus. But I fear for Kubica fully recovery from the injuries. I´m not sure he will be the same he was.

      4. Rockie says:

        How exactly would he have won the WDC and in what year exactly?
        As most fans mistake fiction as facts.
        As the Lotus has not been a WDC winning car.

      5. Roth says:

        The “Lotus” has never been a WDC winning car, but every single incarnation of this team HAS won a WDC.

      6. Michael S says:

        “kubica might have won a WDC by now”.. please! He had one win ever and it was in a race where Lewis took out Kimi in the pits to open the door for him, and later his teammate pulled over to let him by.

        I am not saying Kubica was not a good driver as he was… but please do not pretend he was better than Kimi. The longer he is out the more his legend tends to grow.

      7. Martin says:

        A WDC seems a touch unlikely. The Red Bull was on a different level to the Lotus in 2011 and there was no obvious reason at that stage that Kubica would have ousted Webber. Ferrari and McLaren were both filled with drivers under contract, so Kubica would have been at Lotus. Then there’s the question of who his team mate would have been, as they can get in the way?

        So for Kubica to win last year he would have had to have scored about 70 more points than Raikkonen did, depending on how many of those extra points took points away from Vettel and Alonso. A better qualifying in Bahrain, i.e. top ten on option tyres probably would have ruled out a win there. Australia, China and Monaco could all have been better results.

        I guess it would have been plausible to construct enough points, but the reality is that the Lotus team was the fourth best package overall for the season. A WDC would be pretty much unprecedented with that quality of car – getting close is one thing, but getting over the line is another. As we saw with Alonso in Japan, when you have a car disadvantage and there is a significant gain to be made there is a tendency to try to make things happen and not all risks come off.

        It is an interesing point in another way – there are plenty of Kimi fans on this site who claim he is better than the big three. To suggest he let a WDC go begging might draw some attention if they thought about it.

        Cheers,
        Martin

    2. Anil says:

      +1.

      Grosjean shows flashes of speed but that’s it; he doesn’t bring in constant points.

      #BringBackKoba

  3. Spyros says:

    I guess the obvious question is, does Infiniti Racing have any links to the Infiniti car brand?

    1. Jonathan Lodge says:

      about as much as Pirelli Tyres have with those who insist on calling them tires….

      1. Random 79 says:

        Lol :)

    2. Simmo says:

      +1. Certainly confusing if we end up with Infinity Lotus Renault and Infinity Red Bull Renault!!

    3. Simmo says:

      But overall, no. They are different, as it is Infiniti cars, and Infinity Racing.

    4. Random 79 says:

      Negative – Infiniti with a I is a different beast to Infinity with a Y.

    5. Randy_Torres says:

      Infiniti is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Company.

      1. Spyros says:

        That, I knew. But I thought that since one use of the brand-name has to do with cars and the other with racing (in motorsport, presumably), both in the US, they might be related.

        It is a relief to hear that they are not. Thanks everyone.

    6. Roth says:

      Well considering it’s called “InfinitY Racing” and the car company InfinitI is currently sponsering RBR. And did you not READ this article? It desribes who Infinity is.

  4. JCA says:

    I wonder how many people read the tweets and thought, ‘Why is Infiniti buying part of Lotus? What about RBR?’, must admit I fell for it.

    1. Jonathan Lodge says:

      only those who insist on calling those round black rubber things tires

      1. johnLAD says:

        tired of that joke now

      2. JCA says:

        The family hasn’t bought an Oxford English Dictionary in a couple of decades, but apparently both are now acceptable. I’m dyslexic enough to be lost without spell check, so I honestly couldn’t spot it, as it is in my second language.

      3. Tom says:

        We get it, you dislike the tires. You’re not the only one though

      4. James m says:

        I know they’ve been rubbish this year but they’re still tires, just rubbish ones

      5. Lee says:

        It tyres me to see people call black round things tires (lol).

  5. MarkedOne8 says:

    Well, it’s not exactly 65% left for Lopez. It’s less because they sold I think 2-3% or something like that to British guy for 5M.

    Does this helps more of this or more for 2014 yeas?

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Depends on how quickly cash flows into the team, if at all.

  6. Stuart Harrison says:

    Just to be clear, this is different to the Infiniti that sponsors Red Bull?

    1. JCA says:

      No this is Infinity not Nissans luxury brand, Infinti.

    2. RodgerT says:

      Yes, these people know how to spell the word correctly.

  7. Phil Glass says:

    James, may I ask, when do you expect an announcement in the event that KR will go to RB?

    1. Martin says:

      Given Webber tends to announce his plans after Silverstone, I’d expect that soon. If he is going to Porsche, its PR departent may want to make some announcement around this year’s race this weekend.

  8. Frank says:

    I remenber genii sold shares to andrew ruhan an he was put into their board half a year ago

  9. Cozza says:

    I’m not the only person that though Infinity Cars (Red Bull) buying Lotus when I read Infinity Racing am I?

  10. Joshua says:

    To confirm James, am I correct in believing this has no connection to the infinity that sponsors the red bull team?

    Initially I thought this is the making of a deal for kimi to go to red bull. Reading the article this is obviously not the case and may in fact make it easier for him to stay.

    1. James Allen says:

      No connection. RBR has Infiniti, the luxury car brand

      This is Infinity..

      1. C Lin says:

        Yup & Infinity Racing has the backing of the Brunei royal family.

      2. Elie says:

        A case of its not its red it red..

      3. Me says:

        Apart from the fact that the two words are spelt differently.

  11. ScarletFever says:

    without a man with a comprehensive technical vision of putting a car together aerodynamically and mechanically (such as James Allison)what are the chances that Lotus may sink for a while before re-surfacing.

    this team (previously also as benetton – then as renault)..demonstrates a pattern of two years of successful front row performance and then becomes a victim of its own success and looses its key players e.g. Alonso in 2007..and now Allison

    le sigh

  12. John M says:

    Hopefully, this helps the team stay competitive. The sport really is better off when more teams are fighting at the front instead of the middle and rear.

  13. Rob Newman says:

    I hope this is good news for the team. Will the name ‘Infinity’ create confusion?

    1. Simmo says:

      It already has created confusion!!

    2. Random 79 says:

      A: Me too :)
      B: Already has ;)

    3. RodgerT says:

      Well we’re only about 20 posts into this story and 4 of them are confused, so I’d say yes it will for a while at least.

  14. Tealeaf says:

    Haha this Enstone team loves to make confusion with names concerning other teams, first it was the Lotus conflict with the now Caterham team and now this Infinity group sounds alot like Redbull’s coalition with the manufacturer Infiniti, now we have 2 Infinity/Infiniti Renault but 1 is Redbull and the other is Lotus.

    1. Jonathan Lodge says:

      No need for confusion as long as RB are made to use tires… then the other teams can use real tyres. That might level the playing field ;-)

      1. Mr Ed says:

        Yes, ok Jonathon, we get it already.

      2. Martin says:

        That could mean Red Bull will be using Goodyear tyres?

    2. Simmo says:

      Haha yep!!

  15. petes says:

    A couple of posters here have used the James Allison name – any word on his movements please, James?

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      He takes a step to the left….he takes a step to the riiiight…. he puts is hands on his hips….

      1. Hendo says:

        Gold!

  16. Phil Glass says:

    James, for what it’s worth, friends are reporting a huge guillotine set up outside the FIA office in Paris with just one name on it: Whiting

  17. iiro says:

    Could this be the money needed for keeping RAI contracted to Lotus?

  18. Steve says:

    This should help them for 2014. What with their technical head having already left I’m afraid 2013 is going to be a lost cause for them, at least in terms of winning any titles. I don’t know their internal goals though – they may consider third place in the WCC this year to be their target.

  19. Simon L says:

    I wonder if Kimi will be more or less likely to stay on at the team after this development? …

  20. Feral says:

    My take is they now have the money and driver if they keep Kimi to build a race winning car/team round kimi to win driver & constructors championship for 14, 15 or 2016:)
    might have to look for a reliable number 2 driver :)

  21. C Lin says:

    Good news! Hope they can retain Kimi!

  22. Elie says:

    Looks like another law suite over the Infinity name this time. Could this be another way of achieving publicity through notoriety for Enstone.

    A quick search of the Companies House site shows there is only one “Infinity Racing Partners Ltd” in the UK- the above one.Possible the name would be registered in other countries. There is no “Infinity Red Bull Racing” only “Red Bull Racing”.

    So, I guess it becomes a debate over one being a Registered Business Name and the other being a Sponsorship name by Infinity Motors- which is a different group. Either way I would have thought this only muddies the waters for the Lotus name with a direct competitor.

    As far as the investment goes whilst its a gain by having new investors with broader global reach and sponsorship- people must remember its also a divestment by Genii capital which must have been struggling to fund the team with its 100% ownership. It would be interesting to know how much of a gain Genii made on the 35% stake.

    1. Fireman says:

      No needed. The other is Infiniti and the other is Infinity. You can clearly see which one is which. You’re welcome :D

    2. SteveH says:

      RBR is Infiniti, Lotus is Infinity. Go read Joe Sawards post on this:

      http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/who-is-buying-into-lotus-f1/

      It’s interesting that although one of the new investors owns 20% of the 35% stake, he controls 70% of the Infinity preference shares and thus controls Infinity.

    3. Me says:

      …or you could just read it again and realise that they’re spelt differently…

    4. Elie says:

      Okay you all got me !- I should’ve gone spec savers lol- In fact I already have – just waiting for my new eyes- I blame JA for keeping my eyes glued to the site for good info and friendly banter !.

      Despite the difference in I and the Y – the names still sound the same and most copyright laws protect against similar sounding names and it is surprising if Infiniti have not covered this in a copyright.

      SteveH- thanks yeah I had already read that article and agree it was very informative. They ownership structure of the new group is in fact :-

      Investment Management LLC- 20%
      Universal Sports Group LLC-60% Majority Owners
      Al Manhal International- 20%- Mansor Ljaz owns 700 of the 1000 pref shares and hence the voting rights in decision making.

      Fireman- thank you and your welcome- how very Canadian following the Montreal GP

  23. sandman says:

    Interesting thing about some teams trying to destabilise other teams by leaking cash flow issues. I wonder if such teams hire journo’s on their board of directors for this exact purpose?

  24. Arya says:

    Hopefully this boost should be able to help Lotus stitch Kimi.

    Sorry to deviate from the topic but wanted to know if James had anything to say about the rumored traction control on RBR :P.

    1. Fireman says:

      Deemed as “easily explained as drivetrain oscillation and nothing illegal” by @ScarbsF1 on Twitter.

  25. Craig in Manila says:

    James,

    Is this Team really financially viable at moment ?

    I see reports of them making a $56m loss in 2012, of them borrowing heavily from GENII ($42m) and also Proton ($35m). and now they are selling significant share-holdings to (seemingly) get some income flowing.

    Do you see them surviving in their present form for long-term ? Or will they end-up being owned by the Brunei Royal Family and an assortment of hedgefunds ?

    1. Elie says:

      It’s crazy they operate under the Lotus name and get nothing from Proton who own Lotus motor group not even sponsorship – I think it’s because Proton own the name. Instead all they get is loans which they have to pay back with massive interest.

      It’s too good a team to just vanish . I think the new group will bring other major sponsors that will reduce its liabilities and help it grow both technically and financially. I just read this article which was of interest . Hope it’s true.. I like what this team have done over the last few years;

      http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/111701.html

    2. petes says:

      Actually all this does is accelerate that downhill racer somewhat.

  26. Sami says:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful news. It is like the 7th of Cavalry turning up at the right moment.

  27. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Google the guy below. These are the sorts of people involved here. Bad News people!

    His Royal Highness Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Jefri Bolkiah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien

    Probably can’t say more due to potential libel.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Tried to google, but my keyboard ran out of letters…

      1. Scuderia Mclaren says:

        Assume you’re joking. And if so, I agree, the name is quite elaborate!

        But in case you are not, just highlight the name then cut and past it into a search bar.

        This guy and his fellows are really dangerous, flippant and deceptive people.

      2. Random 79 says:

        I was joking – that’s probably the longest name I’ve ever seen – and I was pretty sure that you weren’t.

        I have no doubt that what you say is true, but the problem with bad guys is that they usually have lots of money which the good guys need, which unfortunately often means compromised morals.

        Lotus (or probably more accurately Lopez) have made their decision and they’re still a great team, so I guess it’s up to us to decide whether or not we still want to support them.

  28. Faraz says:

    Just out of curiosity, since Mansoor Ejaz bought 35% shares in lotus f1, why have they still not paid the drivers their wages? Why are they not able to keep Kimi on board?

  29. bert says:

    All bull**** just leaving the track in Abu Dhabi.
    They even havent paid for their engines yet and can’t go to Texas. The team is in crisis meeting today!

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