From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.30 :: NO.36 :: Sep. 08, 2007
The Indian billionaire entrepreneur Vijay Mallya has confirmed he is behind a rescue package which will see him take majority control of the cash-strapped Silverstone-based Spyker Formula One team.
Mallya has reportedly joined up with Spyker's director, Michiel Mol, to make an €80m (£54m) bid for the team, who currently occupy last place in the constructors' championship with no points, level with Scuderia Toro Rosso.
"Team India is on the Formula One grid," Mallya said at a press conference to launch the team in Mumbai. "I have been dreaming about owning a team. I was looking at the right opportunity to show up at the right time." He has been trying to bring an Indian Grand Prix to New Delhi and his acquisition will fuel speculation that he may well succeed in the next two or three years.
A year almost to the week after buying the former Jordan team from their second owner — the Russian-born Canadian Alex Shnaider's Midland Group — the Dutch Spyker company has decided it has to sell after its sportscar manufacturing operation posted a net loss of €29.9m for the first half of this year. It is reported that the Formula One team lost €13m during the same period. The deal has been agreed and should be finalised within 30 days. Mallya is the chairman and majority shareholder of India's UB Group, which has stakes in beer, spirits and airline businesses.
His airline, Kingfisher, is a sponsor of the Toyota team. He insists that Spyker, because of their status as a constructor, are entitled to a share of television revenues which he expects to amount to €25m in 2008.
"The deal is good for Formula One. It's good for India and it's good for Formula One Management (Bernie Ecclestone's company which manages the sport's commercial rights) because viewership is going to shoot up now," he said.
The only Indian driver to have competed in Formula One is Narain Karthikeyan, who drove for Midland in 2005, scoring his only points when he came fourth in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, in which his was one of only six cars to take the start after a succession of tyre failures prompted all the Michelin-contracted teams to withdraw from the race.© Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2007
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