Judgement is due this week on the acceptance or rejection of Parkalgar’s ambitious recovery plan for the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.
The recovery plan presentation in late October highlighted three facts; firstly the plan was heavily biased towards the two main creditors, Banco Comercial Português, and Bemposta with the unsecured creditors being offered 30% against the main creditors’ 100%.
The smaller creditors of Parkalgar, operating company of the Algarve’s Autodrome, have been left out in the cold as the two big companies that account for 79% of the debts voted in favour of the risky rescue package which has been accepted by Portimão court.
“The principle of equality" for small companies means nothing in this instance as they may be lucky even to recover 30% of the monies they are owed.
Oceanational, a company owned by ex-Formula 1 driver Tiago Monteiro, and Jose Guedes, claims that the state still owes them up to €6 million for a sponsorship deal channelled through the Autodrome’s management company Parkalgar.
They claim the deal was agreed with officials in the José Sócrates government and the amount was to fund the entry of the Tiago Monteiro team in the GP2 championship (second division of Formula 1, owned by Bernie Ecclestone) as a way of promoting the Autódromo Imternacional Algarve, inaugurated in November 2008.
Portugal Capital Ventures, Sociedade de Capital de Risco, S.A. ('Portugal Ventures') normally invests in exciting high-tec start ups and is an operating arm of IAPMEI, a government investment department under the Ministry for the Economy that normally specialises in helping companies develop their business in Europe and Africa.
Portugal Capital Ventures now owns 100% of the share capital of Parkalgar, the ill-fated company that built the Algarve’s racetrack and which limped from an agreement with its creditors last autumn to failure last week.
Amid public concern over the racetrack takeover that was announced last week, yet was short on details, it was confirmed today that the venture capital company, ultimately owned by the state (please see below), has complete control over the racetrack and over all the other assets formerly owned by Parkalgar.4
In the finest traditions of blinkered motorsport reporting, today there are stories about there being a Grand Prix in Portugal, at the fabulous Portimão circuit in the Algarve. It is a great idea, but the one thing missing from the theory is a very large sum of money.
The F1 world tends to live in a vacuum and has failed to notice that Portugal is in a financial mess. Bankruptcies last year were up by a staggering 83% in the first half of the year and Parkalgar, the company that built Portimão, has been in trouble with its primary financiers: the Banco Comercial Português and construction company Bemposta.
In the last article about Freeport it was reported that one of its directors, Robert Hodges, had resigned his position as head of CEREP (Carlyle European Real Estate Partners), which is the European company owned by Washington-based private equity firm Carlyle.
Freeport's only shareholder (according to the last return) is CEREP UK Investment D GP Ltd and this company is owned by Carlyle (through another European-based company registered in Luxembourg, CEREP Sarl).
“Portugal Capital Ventures has the green light to manage the Algarve Autodrome” so read the most recent statement from the competition commission.
News of the takeover and ownership of the Autodrome by a venture capital company responsible to the taxpayer was nothing of the sort.