A London court has ordered Vijay Mallya’s Force India - in liquidation - to pay £150,000 to a broker which helped it get its multi-million ‘Pink Panther’ BWT sponsorship deal. The commercial court of the High Court ruled that AMP Advisory and Management Partners (AMP) in Liechtenstein, “made a contribution” to the title sponsorship deal with Austrian water technology company BWT which led to the cars being painted pink and would have been worth €74 million had it gone through to the full term. In the end Force India only received €29 million as it went into administration in July 2018.
AMP claims it introduced BWT to Force India and provided other assistance to clinch the deal. It maintains Force India agreed to pay a commission of 15% of the sponsorship fee up to €12.5 million and 12% thereafter. The sponsorship agreement was signed on March 13, 2017 but AMP was never paid. Force India’s assets and business were sold in Aug 2018 to Racing Point and BWT currently sponsors Racing Point. Mallya, who still owns a 42.5% stake in Force India and was its team principal, gave evidence at the trial, saying AMP had not performed any services that warranted commission and it was Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes-AMG F1 racing team, who had recommended Force India to BWT, not AMP.
Otmar Szafnauer, COO of Force India at the time, said: “Reputationally, sponsors did not want to be associated with the team because of its connections to Mallya. In business terms, sponsors were wary of us because of doubts over solvency.”