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Ecclestone helped broker Force India deal

NEWS STORY
13/08/2018

It has been revealed that former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was instrumental in the deal which saw a group of billionaires, led by Lawrence Stroll, buy Force India this week.

On Monday, Ecclestone told Forbes that the deal, which was agreed just 24-hours later, was imminent.

"I think Lawrence is the most likely bidder," he said. "He is going to buy it, I'm pretty sure. It will be sorted out within a few days and I don't have any fears that it's not going to be all right.

"I've spent all morning with the people on the Force India business," he added.

Ecclestone is a long-standing associate of Stroll, who at one time was considering making a bid for F1 itself, as well as John McCaw Jr, another member of the Force India consortium.

McCaw is one of four brothers who made their fortunes through the sale of McCaw Cellular to AT&T for $12.6bn in 1994. In 1998, McCaw paid Ecclestone around $40m for eight historic Ferraris to add to his collection.

Along with Stroll, a huge motorsport fan who owns the Mont-Tremblant circuit which hosted the Canadian Grand Prix in 1968 and 1970, and McCaw Jr, the other members of the consortium that now owns Force India are Silas Chou, Canadian entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman of Monaco Sports and Management, financial expert Michael de Picciotto and John Idol the boss of fashion label Michael Kors.

Stroll and Chou made much of their money from buying Michael Kors and taking it public in 2011. They also owned luxury jeweller Asprey which in the 19990s sponsored Ferrari, while Stroll was also the driving force behind the rise of Tommy Hilfiger, which currently sponsors Mercedes.

Although the exact value of the Force India deal is not known, the consortium hasn't had to fork out the original asking price Vijay Mallya put on the team before it went into administration.

Money issues were nothing new at the Silverstone-based outfit which had somehow consistently punched well above its weight.

In 2016 it reported one of the biggest losses of any F1 team, a nett loss of 11.6m ($14.9m) and only last month, as its problems - exacerbated by Mallya's own legal problems - mounted, H.M. Revenue & Customs applied to a court in London for the company to be wound up due to an unpaid tax bill.

Had the judge agreed, that would have been that for the Silverstone-based outfit, which would have been forced to shut-up shop and sell its assets in order to pay its debts.

However, a canny move saw Sergio Perez, who was owed around $4m by the team, call on the court to put the team into administration which gave the troubled outfit a much-needed lifeline as this put it in the hands of administrators FRP Advisory who were subsequently able to rescue it, agreeing a deal with Lawrence's consortium just 11 days after the team had been placed in administration.

However, as is so often the case, good news for one means bad news for another, and Force India's good fortune will surely come at a cost to Williams which is already set to lose title sponsor Martini and its $25m annual payment.

Lance Stroll, now in his second season with the Grove outfit, and surely heading to his father's new team, is understood to be paying the team around $20m a year for the privilege, while if the team remains last in the team standings this will result in a further $21m hit.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ESTMPRFT, 13/08/2018 20:18

""Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" - Not!"

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2. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 12/08/2018 10:54

"I think Williams will get a replacement pay driver as there is still more guys wanting into F1 than there are seats. Supply and demand. The value however of the seat will be lower as the team isn't doing very well. Think sponsorship of McLaren at the moment, better value than it has been for ages due to poor performance.
Sponsorship of Williams is also looking to be good value as they struggle too though they do have the advantage over McLaren of a Mercedes deal. I'm not sure if that deal would include Ocon for "free" power units as Stroll goes to Force India. Then again, Perez was for a time well thought of at McLaren so perhaps he may go back there if one or both of their current drivers leaves."

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3. Posted by mds167, 11/08/2018 21:21

"Fast forward an unknown period of time in one possible dimension...
“I’m pleased to announce an enhanced relationship with our long-standing technical partner, Mercedes.
Rest assured, the Williams names remains above the door and will do so for many years to come *cough*.The decision to relinquish a controlling stake was not taken lightly but made to secure the long term future of our extended ‘family’ in Grove, all the hard working individuals across the team and their families.
The extension to our relationship gives us a fighting chance of moving forwards in the championship and putting Williams back where it belongs at the front of the grid.
<aside> the family silver is still intact, Heritage is ‘wiping its face’ and I managed to keep their grubby little paws off Williams Advanced Engineering. "

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4. Posted by FQITW, 11/08/2018 20:41

"@Chris
Somewhat ironic when you consider this is one of the reasons Williams, along with Renault and McLaren, were (supposedly) uneasy about Force India changing hands.

Maybe that was the idea….

Just saying.
"

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5. Posted by Chris Balfe (editor), 11/08/2018 19:47

"@ FQITW

RE: I can see them on exceptionally shaky ground unless Merc. picks them up as a ‘B’ team style outfit.

Somewhat ironic when you consider this is one of the reasons Williams, along with Renault and McLaren, were (supposedly) uneasy about Force India changing hands.

"

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6. Posted by FQITW, 11/08/2018 18:53

"Good to see Bernie is still around.
Funny but it seems reassuring in this glamour/party/media/BS world we find ourselves to have him on the scene.

Looking at the background of Stroll Snr. it would appear he had/has a very good background as an enthusiast and I feel we should take heart from this regardless of how good his son is, or could, become.

This whole saga including its execution, really is becoming something to shout about.
Long may it continue.

Unfortunately your references to Williams plight look dire taking into account the possible amount of money they will be losing on their present form.
I can see them on exceptionally shaky ground unless Merc. picks them up as a ‘B’ team style outfit. (I personally think Stroll and co. will do their own thing)

It’s a terrible thought but is it possible they will fold by 2020/21 when the regs. change or even before?
I really hope not…
"

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