Thesan Capital takes control of HRT F1 team

2011 F1 season

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Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Valencia, 2011

HRT has been taken over by Madrid-based investment company Thesan Capital.

The team confirmed Thesan has bought a majority shareholding Grupo Inversor Hispania, owner of the Spanish team, from Jose Ramon Carabante.

Thesan, which was formed in 2008, said it will continue running the team in a statement released today:

“The Spanish investment group will lead the development of Hispania Racing in the upcoming years, maintaining the current team and directors, which is one of the main assets of the company, and will try to develop and search for opportunities to optimize and improve the performance of the team in the upcoming seasons, alongside progressively making the team more Spanish and definitively settling the team in Spain.”

The team was originally set up by Adrian Campos with a view to entering F1 in 2010. But it was bought by Carabante’s Grupo Hispania and re-named before the start of the season.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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70 comments on “Thesan Capital takes control of HRT F1 team”

  1. BREAKING: Spanish businessman buys F1 team using Euros found behind sofa.

    1. Ha! Made me chuckle :)

  2. Wasn’t expecting that. So much for Jose making his son team principle.

  3. So they’ve had 3 different owners in the past 18 months now? 3rd time lucky, maybe.

    1. They’re the new Jordan!

  4. It doesn’t change too much.

    1. Only if they really want to take the team base to Spain (where on earth do they get the funds for a completely new factory from? Or work with Epsilon Euskadi after all, now that it is not Carabante insisting on Murcia?) it will change quite a bit.

      But they still have to find the money to pay Kolles before even considering that, I guess. Maybe that crazy Spanish Red Bull idea is not completely Bull S@#t after all?

  5. So I suppose this means Epsilon might get involved too?

    Regardless, hopefully this will mean the end of the ridiculous ‘this could be you’ stickers

    1. I always thought those stickers were meant as a message to the drivers that had to lap HRT.

      1. Haha! :)

    2. So I suppose this means Epsilon might get involved too?

      Is there a connection between Epsilon and Thesan besides both having Greek-sounding names and being Spanish? If not, what makes you think Epsilon Euskadi will get involved?

      1. The statement that the team will become more Spanish.

        I assume that this either means:

        1) They’ll get a new factory in Spain [high start up costs, less likely for an investment company who will want out in 3-6 years]

        2) They’ll link up with an existing Spanish operation – Epsilon being the most logical – and perhaps be bought out by them as part of the investment strategy.

        Both are pure speculation of course, and indeed the statement could be investment speak waffle (i.e. nothing will change). But if its true, and it signals the group’s intentions, then that is a relatively logical prediction. Which of course, you’re free to disagree with.

        1. 2) They’ll link up with an existing Spanish operation – Epsilon being the most logical – and perhaps be bought out by them as part of the investment strategy.

          I’d actually argue that Alejandro Agag and his Addax Team are more logical. Addax runs in GP2 GP3, which are held parallel to Formula 1, and is based in Valencia with one of the sport’s favourite testing circuits (Ricardo Tormo) as its base. As for Agag, he has connections to Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. Agag also has a relationship through his wife to Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish Prime Minister, who is also on the board of directors for News Coorporation. In Agag, they get sporting, business, political and media connections – and Agag purchased Addax from Adrian Campos, who was the original owner of Hispania’s racing licence. Never mind how mismanaged that licence was, the point is that there is some cross-over between the teams. A relationship with Agag and Addax would give Thesan/Hispania a direct link to upcoming talent in GP2 and GP3.

          Epsilon – which is now known as EPIC Racing – is a team in steady decline in the WSR. They haven’t had any real success since Robert Kubica won the title back in 2005. They’ve had two applications to the Formula 1 grid, both of which have been rejected because the FIA felt they were not up to the task of competing.

          1. That makes a lot of sense.

          2. I see what you’re saying – but I chose Epsilon precisely because they have shown themselves to be willing to enter F1 before.

            Regardless of who is chosen, it’ll have to be soon I would have thought for the investment strategy to work.

          3. Regardless of who is chosen, it’ll have to be soon I would have thought for the investment strategy to work.

            Well, Thesan have only owned the controlling stake for less than twenty-four hours …

          4. Indeed it has, however, I highly doubt that they would have bought the team without a management investment strategy in place which will have all these details. Just depends when they announce it!

  6. Additionally, it looks like a management buyout [i.e. what Brawn did a few years ago] funded by a 3rd party investment group.

    Since the team wants to become more Spanish, I can only assume Kolles wasn’t massively involved. Will be interesting to know more about this as the details emerge. As PM said, for now it won’t change much at all though.

    1. The owner changes, but the staff remains the same. Hopefully they will have more money and will be able to develop the car better.

  7. Apparently even teams coming dead last are potential money makers.

    1. Of all the teams on the grid, Hispania have the most to gain and the least to lose. They’re right at the bottom of the points table; they can’t get any lower than that. They might trundle around with embarrassing THIS COULD BE YOU stickers plastered over their sidepods, but they’re sniffing around around Virgin and have matched Tony Fernandes’ best result (13th place) this year. They’ve also got a reasonably solid (if unspectacular) driver in Tonio Liuzzi, and promising talent in the highly-rated Daniel Ricciardo. Hispania aren’t going to be working miracles any time soon – not unless there’s a race of attrition – but they have got potential if you know what you’re looking for. Thesan’s plans for Hispania largely involve basing them in Spain and streamlining the ownership of the team, two things which are going to give them a solid foundation to work on. Once Hispania are stabilised, they can start to move forward.

      1. They’re actually ahead of Virgin at the moment, just like they were last season.

      2. Right at the ‘bottom’ above Virgin that is.

        1. Virgin are at the bottom, too. They might be eleventh and twelfth, but they have no points and if the championship ended today, they would not be eleigible for a share of the television rights.

          1. I think the difference would become very important when you are fighting for it.

          2. Can’t believe I’m defending PM, but 11th and 12th are pretty much the same.

            you get $0 for 11th and $0 for 12th. Just one gets slightly better bragging rights.

            10th and you get money though

    2. Apparently even teams coming dead last are potential money makers.

      Didn’t the Midland guy make an absolute packet when he sold to Spyker? Despite the team not making much performance progress.

  8. why would anyone want to buy HRT? it’s basically only a moving billboard anyway

    1. not a very successful billboard at that!

      1. Don’t be so sure about that. I think they’ve gotten more time on camera compared to Virgin or even Lotus, just by virtue of being lapped so often and finding blue flags difficult to notice.

    2. Well, If you can have a company owing you a big chunk of money (Hispania group) and you want to get some of that back, you might get the assets and sell them on (as Banco Popular now did, i suppose) instead of sit and pray they will pay you back one day.

  9. This news has not even made it to the…

    You are quick, Keith.

    1. isn’t ….. how to say….. journalistic concerning what they reported…

  10. Instead of a buy-out isn’t more likely that HRT had defaulted on all their loans and their equity was sold on to a third party.

    1. Could be man.. this could be more of a bail out than a suitable investment.

    2. Zecks, I agree. This smells like it could be fishier and foggier than the usual buy-out. It could very well be this is merely a debt buy-over from money-makers to other money-makers.

    3. Very likely so.

  11. When I first saw this article, I misread the title as “Thetan Capital takes control of HRT F1 team”. Fortunately, Tom Cruise and his pal Xenu aren’t buying into the sport.

    1. Maybe they should’ve brought Travolta in as well. Wouldn’t that be something! :D

      1. According to the Uncyclopedia article, there is indeed a Thetan Grand Prix, with Cole Trickle (Cruise in DAYS OF THUNDER) and Tony Moreno (Travolta in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER) as drivers.

    2. Didn’t Scientology once sponsor Roberto Guerrero’s car in IndyCars with a Dianetics sticker?

      1. I think that back in the late 80’s Mario Andretti showed up to drive in a GTP race in Tampa to find the car wearing “Dianetics” stickers and refused to drive it until they were removed.

      2. Dianetics Racing Team anyone?

  12. Apparently, Williams have an announcement to make about its future plans, sometime this afternoon (UK).

    1. Given their horror season so far, this sounds ominous.

      1. It is that they are using Renault engines from next year

        more here


      1. Pardon me if I don’t share your enthusiasm. A Williams-Renault reunification might be nice, but I’m not going starry-eyed at the prospect of it. Williams are in dire straits at the moment, and I don’t think a Renault engine deal is going to drag them out of the mire they’ve managed to steer themselves into. There might be positive noises coming from the team for 2012, but with just four points from eight races this year, a lack of sponsor investment that has left them dependent on an underperforming rookie just to keep their head above water, and a public floatation that has largely failed, Williams are at risk of becoming a footnote in the annals of history. Unless they can somehow stop themselves from rubberbanding between the upper and lower midfield as they have been doing for the past four years and keep themselves above the Thirteen Line (there are twelve teams in the sport; the top six carry the numbers one to twelve, while the bottom six carry the numbers fourteen to twenty-five, so the unused number thirteen is the point that divides the grid neatly in two) with some consistency, I’d say they’re looking at the twilight of their time as a Formula 1 team. I don’t think nostalgic engine supply deals alone will be enough to reverse that trend.

        1. the past four years

          Sorry, but that should read “the past few years” – they’ve been doing it since 2005.

  13. They are going to use Renault engines in 2012/13. More to follow.

    1. That’s not good for Cosworth. Will they be able to keep running with only Virgin and HRT as customers? I bet the Virgin management is already looking at ways to score a Mercedes engine supply deal on the back of their McLaren partnership.

      1. Virgin intend to keep Cosworth engines because Cosworth powers Marussia road cars.

        1. Does anyone remember when Adrian Campos said he wanted Campos-Meta to be powered by Ferrari?

  14. So, what was the news yesterday about HRT being sold to a Japanese bank? Did it happen and they sold the shares onward or was it just a rumour?

    1. Probably just a little bit of misinformation.

      1. I notice Diamond Joe Quimby Saward hasn’t commented yet …

        1. PM, VXR, and Kalle, I found this piece of information on Bloomberg article regarding the Thesan buy-out:

          “Thesan Capital was set up in 2008 with the support of Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604), Japan’s largest brokerage, to buy distressed assets in Spain. Nomura isn’t backing the acquisition of Hispania, a Thesan spokesman said by telephone.”

          1. While they’re not directly backing it, I wonder how much of Thesan is owned by Nomura.

        2. did so now though

          He admits mistake, but highlights that the people behind Thesan Capital did have close ties with Nomura in the past, as explanation of where that came from, I guess.

    2. Thetan Capital was set up with the help of the Nomura bank. So Joe was still pretty darn close to the mark, at the very least.

      1. That should be Thesan Capital. Darn that Tom Cruise comment! :D

        That’s from Bloomberg, BTW.

  15. How about we wait until Keith puts up a story about Williams running Renault engines before we disuss it? This article is about Thesan buying a controlling stake in Hispania. It has nothing to do with Williams, and discussion of the Williams-Renault deal is only going to drive this discussion further and further off-topic.

  16. Err….Virgin will keep the Cossie engine for next season….

  17. I hope this means HRT’s future is secure now.

    1. Same. I don’t want them to disappear.

  18. Anyone know if the gov’t in Spain does the equivalent of encouraging local growth with tax breaks? That might improve the prospect of a Spanish factory – and its attendant good publicity about job creation.

    Of course, Spain hasn’t got any damn money, so there’s that on the negative side.

    The pain in Spain is unemployment gain…

  19. Good luck your going to need it

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