Richards out in BAR reshuffle

BAR engine suppliers Honda has announced that it has bought a 45 per cent stake in the Brackley-based team. In a new joint venture company with majority shareholders British American Tobacco (BAT), Honda will provide a new management structure bringing an end to David Richard's role as team boss.

Richards out in BAR reshuffle

Under the new agreement, BAT will own 55 per cent of the team and Honda the remaining 45 per cent. BAT currently owns 90 per cent of BAR (Holdings) Limited, the current owners of the team, and hopes to purchase the final 10 per cent of the company from its three minority shareholders in order to form its own joint venture with Honda to replace the existing BAR ownership structure. The offer was made to those shareholders this morning and BAT is waiting for their response.

If the shareholders are unwilling to sell their 10 per cent, BAT will put BAR (Holdings) Ltd into administration in order for the new company to acquire the shares from the administrator. This will have no effect on the BAR team, it will simply be a way for BAT and Honda to have full control of the outfit.

Alongside the announcement the team has confirmed that BAT will conclude its contract with Prodrive, the company led by Richards, which has held a consultancy agreement with BAT since 2001. Prodrive was brought in to restructure the management of the team and put BAR Honda into a position to challenge for the World Championship.

BAT is keen to stress that Richards has not been replaced, his role has simply been removed as the squad moves away from holding such a position within the team. Nick Fry, as the chief exectuive of the new joint venture, though, would assume the role of team principal in everything but name.

"We were brought in by British American Tobacco to turn the team around and secure its long-term future and that is what we have done," Richards commented. "I am immensely proud of what Prodrive has achieved in a shorter time than anticipated. I believe that BAR Honda is now in a very healthy position to continue its pursuit of the World Championship. Obviously I and all at Prodrive will take a strong interest in the fortunes of the team in the future."

Antonio Monteiro de Castro, chief operating officer of BAT and a director of BAR, said: "We're delighted Honda wants to increase its involvement in B·A·R which has gone from strength to strength this season. We are particularly grateful to David Richards and Prodrive for helping to achieve this improvement and providing a springboard for the next phase of the team's development."

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Honda Buys 45% of BAR; Richards Leaves Team

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