Administrator says Bernie will allow Caterham to miss USA and Brazil

The administrators for Caterham Sports, who have now taken control of Caterham F1, say that they have been given permission by Bernie Ecclestone for the team to miss the US and Brazilian GPs while a buyer is sought.

The administrators are Finbarr O’Connell and Henry Shinners of Smith & Williamson.

A statement from the company said: “In a telephone conversation today between Finbarr O’Connell and Bernie Ecclestone, Mr Ecclestone agreed to support the administrators in their wish to sell the Formula 1 team to a party with the financial strength to sustain it into the future.

“Mr Ecclestone also agreed to give dispensation to Caterham F1 such that it could if necessary miss the U.S. and Brazilian Grands Prix but hoped that a new owner would be in a position to race the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”

Explaining what has happened over the last 24 hours, the statement said: “Mr Colin
Kolles, the previous principal of the team offered today to hand over management control of 1MRT to the administrators. Lawyers for the administrators and Mr Kolles are currently working on the paperwork to effect this transfer.

“The administrators have already been contacted by a number of interested parties expressing a wish to buy the team and they hope that a transaction with an operator of substantial financial means can be concluded in the next few weeks.

“It is hoped that any purchaser of the F1 team will take over the employees and that they will be able to recommence their work including that at the Leafield site.”

Regarding what the sale iinvolved, Shiners said: “This includes the Formula 1 licence, the racing cars, the designs and intellectual property for current and future seasons plus the workforce and all of the technical support provided to the racing team by CSL from the Leafield Technical Centre. Purchasing the assets would give the buyer ready access to F1 racing.”

O’Connell added: “We believe this arrangement gives us a much better chance of being able to reach a better conclusion for the racing team and its creditors.

“While this is a great step forward in making the whole team and assets more attractive, there is no need for the staff of 1MRT to return to the Oxford site in Leafield until a sale of the Formula 1 team occurs.

“This is a difficult situation which is not of our making. We regret any personal impact on 1MRT’s employees. As administrators for CSL, we are seeking to maximise the outcome for its creditors and other stakeholders.”

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Grosjean confirmation due “very shortly,” says Lotus

Lotus says that it expects to soon be able to confirm that Romain Grosjean will stay on alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2015.

The team recently confirmed its Mercedes power unit deal as the cornerstone of a planned recovery.

“Romain is in pole position for that place and honestly it’s a case of us finalising a few details,” said deputy team principal Frederico Gastaldi. “We expect to have an announcement very shortly. Like the technical package confirmation there has been a lot going on in the offices at Enstone, as well as the pits and paddock. It is all looking very good and exciting for the team going forwards.”

Regarding the timing Grosjean said: “Maybe we think it’s fun to keep the media speculating! Honestly, we’re very close to having something to announce but there’s no pressure on when we say something.”

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Administrator takes over running of Caterham F1

The latest statement from Caterham F1 says that the team is now being run by the administrator of Caterham Sports, and confirms that the intention is to carry on competing.

The team has to send its cars and equipment to Austin this weekend.

The statement said: “Following a request of yesterday evening at 21.55hrs CET from Caterham Sports Limited’s administrators and the legal advisors of Mr Tony Fernandes’ related EXIM Bank, representatives of 1MRT/Caterham F1 Team have agreed, with all rights reserved, to hand-over management of the Caterham F1 Team to the administrator Mr Finbarr O’Connell in the higher interest of allowing the team to continue operating and preparing for the next events.”

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Fernandes claims Caterham F1 buyers did not fulfil deal

Tony Fernandes has hit back in the war of words over Caterham F1 by claiming that the buyers – Swiss consortium Engavest – have not fulfilled their part of the deal.

Engavest said today that Fernandes was still responsible for Caterham F1 as he had failed to transfer the shares.

Fernandes said in a statement: “In June 2014, I decided, together with my co-shareholders, to sell my stake in the Caterham F1 team. We agreed in good faith to sell the shares to a Swiss company named ‘Engavest’ on the basis that Engavest undertook to pay all of the existing and future creditors, including the staff. The continued payment of staff and creditors was so important to me that I ensured that the shares would not be transferred to the new buyers unless they complied with this condition.

“Sadly, Engavest has failed to comply with any of the conditions in the agreement and Caterham Sports Ltd (the UK operating company of the F1 team) has had to be put into administration by the bank, with large sums owing to numerous creditors. Our agreement with Engavest was very clear: there was no legal obligation to transfer the shares to them unless certain conditions – which included paying creditors – were met. Those conditions have not been met. Our lawyers have asked Engavest several times to comply with these conditions but they have failed to engage.

“If you agree to buy a business, you must pay its bills. They have breached that promise and now, sadly, it is others such as the employees and the fans of the Caterham F1 team that will suffer if the team ceases to race. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case and that a solution can be found.”

Meanwhile Graham Macdonald, Caterham Group CEO, said: “We genuinely believed, at the time, that the sale of the team was the best route for the staff and creditors of the Company, as we felt it secured its long term future. The whole agreement with Engavest was based around a low consideration for the business, with easy payment terms so that creditors and staff could be paid.

“The buyers were made fully aware at the time of all outstanding liabilities. However, it appears to me that they never had any intention of paying these liabilities. I go on to question how anyone who was interested in the long term future of the business would appoint one of their cleaners – Constantin Cojocar – as the sole director and shareholder of the UK operating Company?

“We continue to see claims and counter claims from the F1 team which are totally unfounded. Not only have they failed to pay the creditors (and have even left our shareholders to pay some of the creditors on their behalf), but they have failed to pay us anything for use of our factory and site, or anything for the use our brand name. In short the new owners have paid us nothing and now the administrators have been appointed they want to walk away from their liabilities.”

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Fernandes still owns Caterham F1, says buyer

The Swiss-based organisation that purchased Caterham F1 in June insisted today that the shares had not been transferred by the previous owners, and that Tony Fernandes thus remains “responsible” for the team.

As the battle of words continues Fernandes said yesterday on Twitter “If you buy something, you should pay for it.”

A statement from the buyer said: “On 29 June 2014 Engavest SA signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Tony Fernandes and the Caterham Group to acquire the shares of 1Malaysia Racing Team/Caterham F1.

“Engavest SA has fulfilled all the conditions precedent, including paying the purchase price for the shares.

“The shares have not been transferred and therefore Mr Fernandes remains the owner of Caterham F1 and is fully responsible for all its activities.”

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Previous owners left £256K unpaid legal bills at Caterham

This document lists Caterham's unpaid legal bills from 2013

This document lists Caterham’s unpaid legal bills from 2013

The previous owners of the Caterham F1 team failed to pay over £256,000 in legal fees before the team was sold to a consortium in June, court documents show.

The fees represent one of a number of unpaid bills left behind by the previous regime that the new owners have had to deal with.

Legal firm Macfarlanes LLP has taken steps to recover the money plus interest in an action against both 1Malaysia Racing Team and a second defendant, Caterham Sports.

Most of the bills relate to Caterham suppliers Aerolab and Fondtech, and a legal battle with Force India over IP.

A formal claim from Macfarlanes states: “In and between May 2010 and December 2013 the Claimant provided legal services to the First and Second Defendants at the request of the Defendants or one of them.

“Between 30 January 2013 and 18 December 2013, the Claimant sent 18 invoices to the First Defendant to a value of £456,927.73 which remain either unpaid or partly unpaid. A list of the said invoices is served herewith as Schedule 1.

“The Defendants have from time to time made part payments, but despite demand having been made, there remains due and owing a balance of £256,917.54.

“The Claimant seeks the recovery of the said sum of £256,917.54 owed by the First Defendant and/or Second Defendant.

“The Claimants also seek interest pursuant to section 35A of the Senior Courts Act 1981 at the rate of 8% per annum from 30 days after the date of each individual invoice in the sum of £26,794.77 as particularised in Schedule 2 served herewith.”

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Frustrated Caterham buyer threatens legal action against Fernandes

Caterham F1 has issued a statement explaining that the previous owners have not officially transferred their shares to the buyers, who are represented by Colin Kolles and the new management that took over the team shortly before the British GP.

The news comes after Caterham Sports, a company associated with the team, went into administration. The new owners claim that they are funding the team while not having legal title to it, and are now threatening legal action against Tony Fernandes and his associates.

The team said today: “On 29 June 2014, Caterham Enterprises Ltd, Caterham (UK) Ltd and Sheikh Mohamed Nasarudin (Seller) and their shareholders Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Bin Meranun entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Engavest SA (Buyer) with regards to 1Malaysia Racing Team Sdn Bhd/Caterham F1 Team.

“Since the date of the Agreement, the Seller has refused to comply with its legal obligations to transfer their shares to the Buyer. The Buyer has been left in the invidious position of funding the team without having legal title to the team it had bought. This is in total contradiction to the Seller’s press release of 3 October 2014 which stated that Mr Fernandes and his Caterham Group had no longer any connection with the Caterham F1 Team.

“The administrators of Caterham Sports Limited have been appointed on behalf of Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (Exim), a creditor of Mr Fernandes and the Caterham Group. The Buyer has no connection with Exim. Caterham Sports Ltd was a supplier company to the Caterham F1 Team. Very regrettably, the administrators’ appointment has had devastating effects on the F1 Team’s activities. Since their appointment, the administrators have released various press statements which have been severely detrimental to the management of the Caterham F1 team.

“After three months of operating the Caterham F1 Team in good faith, the Buyer is now forced to explore all its options including the withdrawal of its management team. Lawyers have been instructed by the Buyer to bring all necessary claims against all parties, including Mr Fernandes who, as an owner, will run the F1 operation.”

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