Canadian billionaire businessmen Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams Martini Racing driver Lance Stroll, has reportedly completed negotiations for the deal to take over the cash-strapped Sahara Force India Formula 1 team.
The news comes amid speculations of the team nearing a controlled bankruptcy phase after the German Grand Prix with the expected change in ownership structure of the team. The move was also revealed by the Deputy Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer on the sidelines of the race in Germany recently.
German automobile magazine Auto Bild has reported that the deal would see the race track owner acquire the 42.5 percent stakes of Indian business tycoons and economic fugitives Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy, with 15 per cent owner Michiel Mol supposedly to continue keeping his minority stake.
Debt-ridden Force India team has remained in economic shambles for over a year with reports emerging that Mallya was looking to sell the team. The 62-year old continues to fight his extradition back to India for the time he fled to London in March 2016 after defaulting on loans worth ₹9,000 crore ($1.4 billion) by a consortium of 17 Indian banks. The loan was granted to him for his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya has allegedly routed funds to gain 100% or a partial stake in about 40 companies across the world. According to the latest charge sheet filed by Enforcement Directorate in Indian courts, he allegedly used Force India and the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore for money laundering activities.
Mallya, last month, had relinquished his position as the Director of the team, citing his ongoing legal tussles. However, he remains a shareholder and Team Principal of the Sahara Force India Formula 1 team.
The Silverstone-based outfit have been widely linked to a takeover deal with sports drinks company Rich Energy, but Mallya has denied those rumours on a number of occasions.
The takeover by Lawrence Stroll is expected to bring the team out form its current financial upheaval and prevent lay-off of over 400 employees. It would also see his 19-year old son move form Williams to join Force India.