Mazepin plans appeal after losing case over sale of Force India to Stroll

2020 F1 season

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The High Court has dismissed claims the sale of Force India in 2018 to a consortium headed by Lawrence Stroll – father of F1 driver Lance Stroll – was mishandled.

The case was brought against the company’s administrators, Geoffrey Rowley and Jason Baker of FRP Advisory, by Uralkali, the Russian chemicals giant run by Dmitry Mazepin, father of 2021 Haas Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin.

Uralkali was among a number of rival bidders for Force India’s assets when it went into administration in July 2018. Lawrence Stroll’s consortium was announced as the winning bidder the following month.

FRP’s administrators defended their selection process, which Uralkali claim was “flawed, misleading and negligent”. After hearing the case over seven days between November 10th and 23rd, Justice Miles found in favour of the administrators, rejecting Uralkali’s claims against Rowley and Baker.

Uralkali stated in response it “intends to seek permission to appeal the decision”.

“Although Uralkali is disappointed with the decision of the trial court, it is pleased that the trial confirmed a number of its prior statements, including the fact that Uralkali’s bid for the assets of Force India Formula 1 team was higher than the winning bid,” it said in a statement.

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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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30 comments on “Mazepin plans appeal after losing case over sale of Force India to Stroll”

  1. According to the [really long] text of the decision, at one point, Stroll had agreed to let Mazepin buy Force India and inject some money, as long as Lance would get a 2 year contract, but Mazepin refused!

    1. Of course, because he would want Nikita in that seat! The whole thing is embarrassing for everyone. Its like one if those kid fights in the playground “my dad could beat your dad”.

      You’d think Marzipan Snr would let it go now that Jnr finally has a seat.

      1. @eurobrun

        Mazepin Jr. might not have a seat though after the latest antics pulled by him on social media. Maybe that’s why his dad might need to acquire another team to give that charming lad a seat.
        Quite hilarious how the billionaire dads are fighting over F1 teams to give their respective underserving sons a career.

    2. I guess the best thing to come from this whole lawsuit is that we get some snippets of what is going on behind the scenes @x1znet, @eurobrun.

      I really wonder what is in it for Mazepin, surely he doesn’t believe he can still win the team? Does he push to get some kind of consessions from Stroll? Does he want to force Mercedes to give his son time in the car afterall? Or does he just want to get as much dirt out on Stroll, Mercedes and Wolf?
      Or does he simply have the money to petulantly bring this up time and time again to satisfy his feelings of being done in?

      1. I think it’s some sort of superiority complex!

      2. @bascb Money, most likely. If the administrators were found to have acted improperly then damages could be an appropriate remedy.

        Having read the judgment I don’t see much scope for a successful appeal – appellate courts tend not to interfere with findings of fact, they are much more concerned with questions of law which seem to be pretty uncontroversial in this case. But I am no lawyer.

        1. I guess he has the money to throw at the chance of that @red-andy. Agree that from the judgement there really doesn’t seem to be much scope to win that appeal.

  2. In other news; Mazepin continues campaign to be most disliked driver ever before ever even starting a race in F1.

  3. Money can’t buy taste…

    1. That is not quite true IMO @geemac. Money sure can buy a lot of good taste. But then, when you don’t have it, money won’t make you recognize it. And I guess being too rich for your own good, mostly does not make you listen to others who do know things better.

  4. I’m no fan of his, but the selection of photo tells a lot about a journalists position.

    1. This is Mazepin senior, not Nikita.

      1. Lol. His expression, his look. Anyway I’m no snowflake personally couldn’t care less on why “we” dislike a russian billionaire just a tad more than any other millionaire.

  5. and a new dentist

  6. So his bid was higher that doesn’t mean that the bid is automatic yours ! Secundaries are also important as the company’s administrators have to look what is good for RP seems Stroll’s plans were much better or Mazepin’s plan was only a bid to takeover and nothing more.
    I don’t see any win for Mazepin but i am not scholled in British company laws.

    1. @macleod You are right in that price isn’t absolutely everything but I would be very surprised if no objective scoring criteria was laid out with absolute clarity (to prevent corruption). If the administrators can prove they followed their scoring procedure then I’m not sure where Mazepin can go.

      Whilst looking to the future is part of the decision, I thought the administrators primary duty was to secure as much money as possible to the teams creditors as they are the ones ultimately out of pocket.

      Even if Mazepin can turn this round, I am not sure what remedy is available other than Stroll having to write him a cheque and claiming a moral victory. Forcing a change of ownership would be messy.

      1. @chimaera2003 UK courts usually don’t expect objective scoring criteria from companies unless they themselves promise one. Rather, it’s decided based on the best judgment of the administrator, provided the administrator themselves complies with administration law. Even the fact the Strolls were prepared to be more flexible in the form of their assistance than the Mazepins is likely to have been a supporting factor, and I highly doubt an administrator would have anticipated that specific move in advance to slot it into a rubric with a pre-scheduled percentage.

        The administrator’s primary duty is indeed to secure as much money as possible to the team’s creditors, because usually none of the offers will meet all of the debts. However, the Stroll’s offer did so, presumably the Mazepin’s did too (since it was higher), so the deciding factor has to be something else (since creditors are getting 100% of their money back whichever offer is selected). While additional working capital (which is what happens to the leftover) will have been looked upon favourably by the administrator, so will a significant number of other factors, some important ones of which appear to have been better-met by Stroll than Mazepin.

        I think the problem here is that the Mazepins are accustomed to the Russian procedures, which more closely resembles a bidding war. Hence their continued confusion that the headline figure isn’t the deciding factor.

        1. @alianora-la-canta Thanks for providing some more specific details, I admit my thinking was somewhat generic in nature.

          Considering the nature of the company involved (fully fledged F1 team), my view was that this ‘purchase’ would be hotly contested so figured that some objective criteria (similar to a tender) would have been applied to protect against disputes like this.

          Wasn’t aware that Stroll offered up 100% of the creditor demands, this as you say is very unusual in something like this. So yes, additional money offered is pointless (who gets it) so business plan and retained staff may have made Stroll’s offer better. If that is the case then good chance that Mazepin just didn’t understand what the administrator was looking for which goes back to the culture point.

          1. @chimaera2003 This is the third time FRP has handled the administration of a F1 team (it’s previously handled both of Marussia’s administration visits). Neither of the others led to any sort of disputes. I can see why it proceeded without objective criteria (especially since that’s quite common for business administrations in the UK), even though your idea for some sort of framework is wise.

        2. I highly doubt an administrator would have anticipated that specific move in advance to slot it into a rubric with a pre-scheduled percentage

          @alianora-la-canta though from my experience (technical parts) with writing public market calls for tender (which are even more tightly regulated), it is still relatively easy (and relatively common) to tailor-made an offer to suit one of the participants, having according evaluation tables. It is even possible that there have been secret discussions between Force India and Stroll about that (which in public markets would be illegal).

          Actually one often has already a view of how things should work, search a fitting partner and build a “public” case around that view, “free” for everyone to participate.

          I’m not saying it was like that, but that I’m often being requested to tailor-made such tenders so I wouldn’t be surprised at all that it would be the case here.

          1. @spoutnik Possibly, but if the information the administrator gets indicates that a particular investor is in the best interests of the client, they’re arguably obliged to make that tailoring, given the basis of UK administration law. Only if no reasonable party would determine a particular investor is in the best interests of a client (either because it’s too early in the process to be sure – sometimes the case when the best offers are initially similar – or if a reasonable person would confirm another investor is better) is the administrator allowed to point-blank refuse.

    2. I’m no scholllar either but stroll’s consortium acquisition of Aston and force India looks legally “iffy” as it is kind of clear stroll intended to sell shares to mercedes. A stronger offer getting denied shows that someone knew something they should not know and the secret was the part of the deal that saw the Mazepins lose. You have to have some justification for picking a worse deal. I guess Stroll snr made a demand Mazepin snr would always refuse and so managed to get away with refusing the better deal on paper, by making mazepin snr back out. When you see the cumplicity of Merc and Aston you get why Mazepin wanted to nail them but apparently nobody is interested in that.

      1. It doesn’t matter if stroll snr wanted to sell shares to Mercedes. (There is nothing wrong with new owners in a company bringing in new investment) And I’m pretty sure aston martin didn’t sell any shares to Mercedes. Mercedes got a stake in aston martin in return for giving aston martin access to its technology. Just because you offer more money doesnt make it a better deal, if the other deal is offering to pay off all debts & keep all the staff employed.

  7. So basically..
    “I can’t understand why more money does not automatically mean I get what I want”
    “Waa waa waa, I threw money at it, why isn’t it mine?”

    I’m really not looking forward to having someone of his ilk involved with F1.

  8. Can we agree that we are at least a tiny bit pleased it’s Lance in that seat and not Nikita?

  9. Uh oh, Nikita is going to punch Lance.

  10. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    16th December 2020, 21:45

    The Mazepins. Hmm. Not that keen. Personally I think being a billionaire is a crime regardless of your background. Don’t like any of them. This one though. He’s different. Carlos Slim, Stroll… You don’t make that kind of money without two attributes. Opportunistic gambling and ruthlessness. Mazepin? The environment he made his money in is telling. Kvyat family moved to Italy in part to ensure their money was safe. Mazepin thrived in Russia. Oligarchs only exist in Russia with permission from Vlad. I’m just going to say it. Gangster.

    1. @davewillisporter there are reports that Uralchem is, whilst currently not sanctioned, being looked at by both the EU and USA for Mazepin’s activities in Belarus, particularly with regards to attempts to take over the fertilizer company Grodno Azot. Grodno Azot is currently subject to sanctions, which does raise the question of whether, if Mazepin did succeed in taking over that company through Uralchem, sanctions might then be applied to him or to Uralchem.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        16th December 2020, 22:38

        @anon Sanctions don’t really bother me. That’s just politics and as an RAF Engineer said to me once, “If I’d known then what we did to them I would have switched sides” Russians are solid people and hard as F. How you could make billions in Russia was determined by how much you wanted to and what you were willing to do. Putin forced out the US friendly ones and propped up his fans. Billionaires should not exist in our society period! The fact that they do is a travesty. However, My spidey sense is tingling with Mazepin. That guy is more corrupt than most.

  11. Mark in Florida
    17th December 2020, 23:00

    If Mazepin holds on for a couple of years he can be the proud owner of Haas Racing. Gene will probably be tired of it by then and Mazepin can buy him out and rename it Haaski or Momoney Racing.

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