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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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1

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!

2

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?

3
Scuderia McLaren

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.

4

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

5
Scuderia Mclaren

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.

6

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.

7

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

8
Craig in Manila

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 ?

9

Actually all this does is accelerate that downhill racer somewhat.

10

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

11

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.

12

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

13

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?

14

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.

15

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

16

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

17

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.

18

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

19

Good news! Hope they can retain Kimi!

20

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

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

22

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.

23

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

24

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

25

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

26
Bring Back Murray

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

28

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.

29

Haha yep!!

30
Jonathan Lodge

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 😉

31

That could mean Red Bull will be using Goodyear tyres?

32

Yes, ok Jonathon, we get it already.

33

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

34

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.

35

A: Me too 🙂

B: Already has 😉

36

It already has created confusion!!

37

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.

38

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

39

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.

40

No connection. RBR has Infiniti, the luxury car brand

This is Infinity..

41

A case of its not its red it red..

42

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

43

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

44

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

45

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

46

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

47

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.

48
Stuart Harrison

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

49

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

50

No this is Infinity not Nissans luxury brand, Infinti.

51

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?

52

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

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