JEREZ: Lotus Formula One team owners Genii Capital would be interested in buying the loss-making Lotus Group from Malaysian parent Proton, chairman Gerard Lopez said on Monday.
“It’s a great, great brand,” he said of the British-based sportscar company after the presentation of the team’s new Renault-engined E20 Grand Prix car at the Jerez circuit.
“People have said that if there was a good deal to be had we would be interested, which is wrong. I think if there is a way that we think the company can be bought and run successfully, then of course we would be interested.
“We are carrying the brand now on our cars so there is an emotional attachment to it. There is also a belief that a number of things that they are doing are right in terms of cars,” added the Luxembourg-based entrepreneur.
Although the former Renault team have been renamed Lotus since last season, Genii now own 100% of it and Lotus Group are the title sponsors.
“Overall I think we would show interest if we believed that there is something good that can be done by acquiring that company,” said Lopez.
Malaysia’s state investment arm Khazanah said last month it was selling its 42.7% stake in Proton to conglomerate DRB-Hicom. Media reports have suggested DRB-Hicom is open to selling Lotus Group.
Lopez said his team, who have Finland’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean as their drivers, could remain as Lotus even if the sportscar company was sold to someone else.
Raikkonen is back after two years away from the circuit, and he will be hoping to recapture the kind of form which saw him garner 18 Grands Prix before he switched to the World Rally Championship in 2009.
“Essentially the name is something that we want and can carry over regardless,” he said, alluding to his acquisition of the rights to the evocative Team Lotus name.
“We were never going to call it Genii F1 team or something like that.
“At this stage what we are is representing Lotus the car company ... hopefully that will continue to be the case, if not it’s still a very strong brand to carry on.”
The original Team Lotus was founded by Colin Chapman, who died in 1982, in the 1950s and became one of the most successful Formula One teams of all time with 79 race victories before folding in 1994.
The sportscar company, which was sold to General Motors in 1986, has been controlled by Proton since 1996. — Reuters