Proton holds rights to buy 10 percent of Lotus F1


  • Other Sport
  • Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012

(Reuters) - Group Lotus owner Proton loaned Lotus F1 $47.71 million and retains the rights to purchase 10 percent of the Formula One team despite the end of a title sponsorship agreement, the car maker said on Wednesday.

Genii Capital runs the former Renault team who boast drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean and said earlier this month they would race on as Lotus even though "the sponsorship agreement and the obligations of Lotus have been terminated".

Group Lotus has now clarified the exact deal between the two parties.

"Group Lotus' branding and marketing rights and subsequent activities remain unaffected by the new agreement until at least 2017," a statement said.

"Alongside continued branding and title partnership status, Group Lotus is also the exclusive master licensee for all Lotus F1 Team merchandise.

"The new agreement was reached following Group Lotus owners Proton providing team owners Genii with a 30 million pound loan which is repayable within three years."

Proton has recently been sold by Malaysia's state investment arm Khazanah to Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom.

Group Lotus, in a combative press release entitled "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" and including the phrase "we have never said that there are no problems at Lotus", said the takeover did not affect the F1 deal.

"In order to secure the loan Genii used 100 percent of the F1 team's assets as collateral meaning that under the conditions of the loan agreement Proton have been given full title guarantee to all plant, machinery, show cars, computers, office and the Lotus F1 Team headquarters," the statement added.

"In addition Proton retains the rights to purchase 10 percent of the F1 team. Another 10 percent share option will be activated if the team default on their loan obligations with Proton."

The development is the latest twist in a long-running saga involving one of the sport's most illustrious and successful brand names harking back to the team founded by the late Colin Chapman in the 1950s that chalked up 79 race wins.

Last season saw two similarly named teams on the grid with the Genii outfit designated Lotus Renault and another called Team Lotus Renault after Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes thought he had the rights to the name.

Fernandes, after an agreement following legal action, changed his team's name to Caterham for this season while Renault became Lotus. ($1 = 0.6288 British pounds)

(Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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