As expected, Russian potash fertilizer producer and exporter, Uralkali, of which Dmitry Mazepin is a non-executive director, is taking legal action against the administrators of the Force India F1 team.
The Russian company warned of legal action last month when it questioned the process by which a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll bought the Silverstone-based outfit, suggesting that the process “may not be in the best interests of Force India creditors and stakeholders, and the sport in general”.
In a new statement, which once again does not mention Mazepin, the Russian company confirms that it has begun proceedings in the London High Court and is seeking substantial damages for “prejudicial and unequal treatment”.
“The Company sells its fertilizers to more than 60 countries worldwide, including 20 in which Formula One holds its Grand Prix Championship,” it reads.
“For several years, Uralkali, together with one of its subsidiaries, has been a partner of Force India and one of the sponsors of the Russian Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi. Force India would be a highly effective and valuable marketing tool for the business.”
Uralkali claims that the winning bid was lower than its bid, while describing the response from the administrators as “inadequate”.
Its “extremely generous offer”, included a cash consideration of between £101.5m and £122m, would have paid more than £40m to Force India‘s holding company.
“We had a strong business case for acquiring Force India and we believe our bid was the best one tabled,” said Paul Ostling, an independent director of Uralkali. “We have serious concerns as to why the Administrators did not use the opportunity to maximise the amounts that could have been paid to creditors and shareholders.”
Uralkali’s case may well be aided by an FIA press release issued in the wake of the sale to Stroll’s consortium which declared that “since the Force India Formula One Team Limited was placed into administration on 27 July, the FIA has worked in collaboration with the Joint Administrators (Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker of FRP Advisory LLP), Racing Point UK Limited and Formula One Management to ensure the expedient and compliant transition of the team’s assets to the new entrant”.
In other words, according to the FIA’s own press release, from the day that Force India went into administration, the aim was for Racing Point to be the new F1 entrant.