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Lotus denies it has been sold to Infinity Racing

NEWS STORY
15/07/2013

Lotus has done a dramatic U-Turn and denied its own claims that a stake in the Formula One team has been sold to investment group Infinity Racing. Despite issuing a press release last month stating that "Lotus F1 Team has new part-owners as of today" it has now revealed that in fact the deal has not yet been completed.

The revelation is buried at the very bottom of an article on Autosport.com about Lotus' 2014 driver line-up. The article quotes Gerard Lopez, founder of Genii Capital, the investment fund which majority owns the team. He states that "one of the key factors that will help Lotus pick the best talent available, rather than the best-funded drivers, is the financial boost that is expected to come from a link-up with new investors Infinity Racing."

The article bluntly states that Lopez said discussions with the group were ongoing, although the deal had not yet been completed. He adds "it is progressing onwards; it also sits with us."

Lopez says that the team issued the press release "because we had to; our group is a well-known group and we cannot just let things slip out." However, this does not explain why the press release needed to say that the team "has new part-owners as of today." According to the articled, Lopez acknowledges that this is not the case as the sale may not go ahead. "It is progressing and it is partially up to us to decide how we move forward," he says.

Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt was surprised when he first heard about the deal because less than two months earlier Lopez had confirmed in writing to him that 2% of the team had been sold to British property developer. This did not seem to be reflected in the Lotus press release which said that "Lotus F1 Team was previously 100% owned by an investment vehicle of Genii Capital." It is possible, for example, that Ruhan had bought into the team via Genii so Sylt contacted Lopez for clarification but he did not respond.

The question is why has Lopez revealed that the deal is not done when the whole world thought the opposite? If the deal was going to happen as per the press release there would seem to be little point in letting people know that it hadn't actually been completed. You have also got to wonder why the website in appears to have buried the news at the bottom of an article which has a very different subject matter.

The ownership of the team isn't just of interest to the F1 community but also the wider business world as there are reports that Lotus contractors are owed money and Pitpass is aware of at least one other party in this position.

It also follows Sylt's revelation that last year Lotus made the biggest team loss in F1 history.

The net result is one of confusion which doesn't do any good for Lotus' credibility. Not only was the original press release widely reported but one media outlet even interviewed Mansoor Ijaz, the chairman of Infinity Racing. It didn't stop there as the interview was even covered by other outlets. All the while, it seems that Infinity Racing has not actually got its hands on a share in the team.

It remains to be seen whether the sale will be completed but it isn't the first time that Lopez has been linked to a deal which hasn't come off. Regular Pitpass readers will remember that back in 2010 he was involved in a failed bid for Swedish car manufacturer Saab. That's a story for another day.

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