Renault paid £1 to buy back its F1 team
The reason Renault was able to get it so cheap is because the team was deeply in debt, part of which Renault will now assume. Less than a year ago, the team was said to be nearly $200 million in the red, and just a few months ago Renault came to its rescue to pay a $4 million tax bill to the British government. Under the terms of the new deal, Renault will assume the debt that the team's previous owners had accrued, but will be spared the nearly $150 million which its stakeholders loaned to the team.
The history of the outfit based in Enstone dates back to 1981 when it was founded as Toleman Motorsport. French fashion giant Benetton bought the team in 1985, which in turn sold it to Renault in 2000. A decade later, after two world championship titles, Renault began stepping back its involvement in the team and gradually transferred ownership to investment firm Genii Capital, which has run it ever since under the Lotus name that it secured from the automaker under contract until 2017.
Unable to fund a competitive team, Genii has now sold the team back to Renault, but the financial intricacies of the deal are far from straightforward. To start with, Genii and its subsidiary Gravity Motorsports (the team's parent company) didn't hold all the shares in the operation, so it bought back over 6 million shares from Whiterock Alliance to add to its own 60 million shares. The vast majority of those shares were then transferred (for that princely sum of £1) to Gringy (UK) Ltd, the shell company that technically owned the team in its Benetton days.
Gringy (a wholly owned subsidiary of Renault) will hold a 90-percent stake in the team, with the last 10 percent remaining in Genii's hands and those of its investors. In the process, the outfit will now rejoin the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes among the F1 teams developing their own powertrains.
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