Uralkali, the company linked to the father of GP3 racer Nikita Mazepin, has questioned if administrators acted in either Force India or Formula 1's best interests when agreeing a deal for the struggling team to be bought by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll.

Force India entered administration last month following mounting financial difficulties in action triggered by driver Sergio Perez, but was rescued after a consortium led by Stroll, the father of current Williams driver Lance Stroll, agreed to buy the team.



The deal saved all 405 jobs at Force India and secured its future in F1, but it has now been challenged by Russian chemical company Uralkali, among whose directors is Dmitry Mazepin, who had its own bid rejected.

Uralkali confirmed in a statement it had "assembled a team of professionals (including lawyers, accountants, insolvency experts and a Formula 1 specialist) to prepare and submit a competitive bid for Force India" on August 3, with options to either take a controlling stake in the team or acquire the business and assets.

"Upon our discussions with the shareholder representatives, it became apparent to us that the rescue option (at least on the conditions and within the timeframes put forward to us by the Administrator and consistent with our own code of integrity) was not achievable due to the complexity of legal structure, the extended period of time required to obtain consents of the 13 Indian banks and to obtain approval of a UK court for an amendment to the freezing injunction," the statement adds.

"Uralkali submitted a restated proposal on August 6, 2018 which, due to the above reasons, no longer offered a rescue option but set out a very attractive proposal to purchase business and assets of Force India on a going concern basis."

Despite exploring various options over the days that followed, Uralkali claims that the court-appointed administrator, FRP Advisory, "refused to engage with Uralkali team, did not reply to phone calls and emails and communicated with Uralkali in a single email following close of business on August 7, 2018 that it had entered into an exclusivity arrangement with another bidder regarding a proposal to rescue the company.

"Despite expiration of the deadline set by the Administrator, no rescue plan was submitted to the court for approval, which confirmed Uralkali’s view that the rescue option was not achievable in the timeline and under conditions proposed by the Administrator. Under these circumstances, it is surprising that no attempt was made by the Administrator to engage with Uralkali with respects to its bid for the assets and business of Force India."

The statement from Uralkali ended with the company questioning whether the administrator had acted in the best interest of either the team or F1 as a whole in agreeing a deal with the Stroll-led consortium.

"Uralkali always emphasised its desire to bring transparency, proper corporate governance and financial stability to Force India," the statement reads.

"In this connection, Uralkali considers that the process conducted by the Administrator may not be in the best interests of Force India creditors and other stakeholders, and the sport in general."

In a statement released by administrators FRP Advisory in response to Uralkali it stated all bidders had equal opportunity and all legal duties were followed.

"All bidders were given equal opportunity to submit the best deal for Force India," the statement read. "Throughout, we, the Joint Administrators, have closely followed our statutory duties and objectives as administrators and had the advice of experienced legal counsel."


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