NEW DELHI, Oct 13, 2011 (AFP) - Sahara Group says it is investing $100 million in Force India and taking an equal stake in the Formula One team, which will be renamed Sahara Force India.
The announcement late Wednesday comes as India puts the finishing touches to its first Grand Prix, on October 30, at the Buddh International Circuit outside New Delhi.
Just last weekend Force India's co-owner and team principal Vijay Mallya issued an official statement saying he was shocked to read reports that the team was for sale, but on Wednesday he confirmed the news during a press conference with Sahara Group chairman Subrata Roy in Delhi.
Both Mallya and Sahara now own 42.5% of the team while the Mol family, which bought 50% alongside Mallya back in 2007 as part of a €88 million deal, has reduced its holding to 15%.
"I feel doubly proud Sahara is co-owner of India's only F1 team and I'm sure we will bring pride and laurels to our beloved nation," Sahara chairman Subrata Roy told reporters at a hotel in New Delhi's outskirts.
Roy, who has a reputation as one of India's most reclusive businessmen, appeared with his new partner, the flamboyant liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, in identical t-shirts emblazoned with the team name.
Mallya, who will remain team principal, told reporters that the new set-up would provide the funds to enable the team "to take a huge technological leap forward".
"I never dreamt we could come this far so fast -- the possibilities are limitless," Mallya said.
Force India was set up when Mallya and Dutch businessman Michiel Mol purchased the loss-making Spyker team four years ago.
Both Mallya, who heads the Bangalore-based UB liquor group and Kingfisher Airlines, and Sahara will hold 42.5 percent stakes in the team, while the Mol family will hold 15 percent.
Force India's two drivers, Adrian Sutil of Germany and Scotland's Paul di Resta, are placed 11th and 13th respectively in the 2011 drivers' standings.
The injection of funds comes as Kingfisher Airlines, India's second-largest carrier, faces financial turbulence. Mallya recently announced plans to shut down the airline's budget arm.
Sahara India Pariwar straddles finance, infrastructure, housing, media and entertainment, consumer goods, manufacturing and services.