Beleaguered industrialists Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy “Sahara”, who jointly own Force India Formula One team, which has been valued at $225 million, are in a very advanced stage of discussion to sell their stakes in the team, according to authoritative sources. While Roy had bought a 42.5% stake in the Formula team in October 2011 for $100 million, Mallya also owns an equal percentage (42.5%) in the Force India team which he bought in 2007 along with Dutch businessman Michiel Mol for $88 million.
Responding to The Sunday Guardian’s email on the details behind the off-loading of the stake, Sahara Force India Formula One team said, “Rumours about the sale of the team are just speculations. Our Team Principal has always said that any credible offer would be discussed with the shareholders, but that the team is not for sale.”
There was no response from the Sahara group on the developments. Roy recently sold off his 75% stake in the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York for $600 million. The Sunday Guardian also sent emails to the firm which is likely to buy stakes of Mallya and Roy, but no response was received. Earlier last month, Mallya had stepped down from the post of director of the team, replacing himself with his son Siddharth while he continues to remain the Team Principal of Force India. On the official page of Formula One, on 31 May, it was announced that Mallya has stood down from his role as director of Force India, but he remains a shareholder and Team Principal of the Formula One team.
Indian agencies and banks that have filed multiple cases against Mallya—who fled to UK in March 2016—to recover loans they gave him, are now facing the possibility that the recovery, which they would eventually get, would be a pittance as Mallya has transferred the ownership of his multiple properties to his close relatives, almost all of whom are foreign citizens. During this process, no red flags seem to have been raised by the banks or the agencies.
According to sources aware of the development, Mallya had been looking for a buyer for his stake for a long time now, but was not getting a good offer, something which they claim he has received now. The sources said that should both Mallya and Roy exit the team, the new owner will have the majority control over the functioning of the company and that the possibility of the word “Indian” not being carried on with the Formula One team was not ruled out. “The Sahara group has been (reported as) trying to exit from the team since the last three years, but no one was interested in buying a 42% share. With Mallya too now deciding to exit it, the change of ownership has become easier as the new owner will have 85% of the stake,” a source said.