Uralkali dispute over Force India takeover gets court date

Adam Cooper

Last summer Uralkali, led by Dmitry Mazepin, was one of the failed bidders who attempted to buy the struggling Force India team from administrators FRP Advisory LLP.

Mazepin’s son Nikita was a Force India test driver from 2016-18 before joining Mercedes this season for a private test programme alongside his Formula 2 drive with ART Grand Prix.

Uralkali believes that it made a substantially higher bid than the consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, who won the race to buy the team as a going concern – but who subsequently saved it by acquiring the assets and setting up a new company to run the renamed Racing Point operation.

Uralkali began the action against Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker of FRP Advisory last September. The timing of a trial was agreed on Wednesday in a case management conference, an early procedural step.

In a statement, Uralkali said: “During this hearing the court considered case management issues and settled the timetable for further steps up to trial, which was scheduled to take place between October and December 2020.

“Prior to trial, the parties to the proceedings will be required to disclose certain correspondence and other documents relating to the bidding process, and will exchange witness evidence in April 2020.

“Earlier in December 2018, two US district courts decided to compel members of the Racing Point consortium residing in [the] US to provide documents and testimony, which may assist in support of Uralkali’s claim in the High Court in London.”

FRP Advisory remains adamant that it did nothing incorrect. In a statement given to Motorsport.com, it noted: “We fulfilled our statutory duties as administrators throughout this process and ultimately achieved a very successful outcome for all stakeholders. We remain fully confident that this baseless legal action will be dismissed.”

Uralkali says its case is based upon three areas of concern, namely “failure by the administrators to determine the highest bid in the process – from Uralkali – as successful,” “misrepresentations and lack of transparency in the process run by the administrators,” and a “flawed sales process which failed to achieve the maximisation of sale proceeds for creditors, shareholders and other stakeholders.”

Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP19

Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP19 Zak Mauger / LAT Images

Zak Mauger / LAT Images