Lopez led Genii seek to purchase Lotus Group

Gerard Lopez (FRA) Genii Capital. Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai, China, Saturday 16 April 2011.

Gerard Lopez

Feb.7 (Reuters) – Lotus Formula One team owners Genii Capital would be interested in buying the loss-making Lotus Group from Malaysian parent Proton, chairman Gerard Lopez said on Monday.

“It’s a great, great brand,” he said of the British based sports-car company after the presentation of the team’s new Renault-engined E20 grand prix car at the Jerez circuit.

“People have said that if there was a good deal to be had we would be interested, which is wrong. I think [that] if there is a way that we think the company can be bought and run successfully, then of course we would be interested.

“We are carrying the brand now on our cars so there is an emotional attachment to it. There is also a belief that a number of things that they are doing is right in terms of cars,” added the Luxembourg-based entrepreneur.

Although the former Renault team have been renamed Lotus since last season, Genii now own 100 percent of it, and Lotus Group are the title sponsors.

“Overall I think we would show interest if we believed that there is something good that can be done by acquiring that company,” said Lopez.

Malaysia’s state investment arm Khazanah said last month it was selling its 42.7 percent stake in Proton to conglomerate DRB-Hicom. Media reports have suggested DRB-Hicom is open to selling Lotus Group.

Lopez said his team, who have Finland’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen as one of their drivers, could remain as Lotus even if the sports-car company was sold to someone else.

“Essentially the name is something that we want and can carry over regardless,” he said, alluding to his acquisition of the rights to the evocative Team Lotus name. “We were never going to call it Genii F1 team or something like that.

“At this stage what we are representing is Lotus, the car company…hopefully that will continue to be the case, if not it’s still a very strong brand to carry on.”

The original Team Lotus was founded by the late Colin Chapman, in the 1950s and became one of the most successful Formula One teams of all time with 79 race victories before folding in 1994.

The sports-car company was sold to General Motors in 1986, but has been controlled by Proton since 1996.