Aston Martin F1 says the recent investment made in the team by private equity company Arctos Partners is not a precursor to an exit by main shareholder Lawrence Stroll.
Arctos investment in AMR Holdings GP Limited – the entity that owns the F1 team – is expected to close by year end.
The private equity firm’s current portfolio includes high-profil investments in the NBA's Golden State Warriors and the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning but also interest in several other sports franchises.
Even before last week’s announcement, there had been speculation regarding the involvement of Stroll’s investment group in Aston Martin F1, with rumors alleging that the Canadian billionaire and his associates were exploring a sale of their holding in the team.
But Jeff Slack, the outfit’s managing director has confirmed that Arctos’ investment is strategic, with the firm bringing to Aston Martin F1 its network of contacts as well as its extensive resources to enhance the team’s reach and brand.
"Lawrence is all in, he's not going anywhere,” Slack told Motorsport.com. “It's not just the team, but he has this thing called Aston Martin Lagonda that's a pretty important part of his life too.
“So the team is the marketing platform for Aston Martin Lagonda. And of course, Lawrence is a very wealthy guy, it's not an issue of capital.
“The other thing about these guys, if you dive in a bit, they're never control guys, they never own and operate anything, only minority stakes. They are never going to be a control operator, they're never going to be the owner of this team.
“So that shows you if Lawrence was trying to sell to somebody who ultimately could take control, these will be the last guys you would sell to."
Slack shed light on how Arctos got involved with Aston Martin and F1.
"We met them two years ago,” he said. “They're really best in class. They've specialised in long-term minority stakes and top franchises. There are not many people that are doing that, although you’re getting a lot more money coming into sports, institutional capital. These guys have been the leaders in doing that.
“A lot of people have approached us and Lawrence to invest in the team. And we're in a very unique situation, we have one owner that controls the whole team, and can decide on lunch if it's the right deal. It's not a complicated process.
“And we didn't go through a really formal process, it was just these guys were clearly the right guys, mainly from a strategic standpoint.
“Obviously, there's investment, but what they bring to the party is working with some of the best franchises in the world.”
Slack said that Aston took a candid approach on how to improve all aspects of its business and decided that by hooking up with outside investors, it could broaden the input, boost its knowledge while also offering something to its partners.
"I think you have to be open-minded,” he added. “Nobody does things perfectly or the best way. And you have to look outside of the bubble to say, how can we as a business do things better?
“It's not just on the commercial marketing side, it may be athlete preparation, they've invested in organisations that might be better at that.
"There's a whole gamut of things that we can learn from. And there might be things that those organisations learn from us, because we're a global business, whereas a lot of the franchises will be more local”.
Slack believes that US private equity gauging and investing in F1 is a good sign for the sport as it will continue to help drive its value.
“There's been private equity transactions done already, several,” he noted. “This is the next step in that, again, good for our whole sport, it values the sport it says, 'hey, this is like buying an NBA team or an NFL team'.
"This is what you're getting when you get into F1. So I think that’s totally good for the business.
“The second is specific to our team. We've talked about the new campus, new wind tunnel, Honda engines, doubling the workforce.
“This is the next evolution, and this also gives us the right financial partner to do what we need, and invest how we need. Not that Lawrence couldn't do it, but now he has a true partner who does this for a living."