Lotus takeover means expansion


Business Editor

The Norfolk-based Lotus car group is to step up expansion and speed the introduction of its next model as a result of a £36m takeover by the Italian Benetton and Bonomi families.

Under the deal, confirmed yesterday, the families' jointly owned investment firm, 21 Invest, is to buy Lotus from Bugatti, the troubled Italian supercar builder that has owned the British company for only 18 months.

Andrea Bonomi, managing director of 21 Invest, said: "We are going to expand Lotus quite aggressively."

He said the extra funds would be available because the new owners would forgo dividends and leave all the cash generated within the company. There was no need for an injection of new capital to fund the expansion, which would raise the number of jobs at the company. It currently employs 985 people.

Last year Lotus returned to the black with a trading profit of £5.4m and retained profit of £2m on turnover of £50.8m.

As well as manufacturing a sports car range headed by the £47,995 Esprit S4, Lotus is a leading international automotive engineering consultant. Based on a 55-acre site at Hethel near Norwich, the company is also developing a small lightweight sports car due to go on sale in mid-1996.

Mr Bonomi said the takeover was not a result of an enthusiasm for cars: "I am not a car fan and neither is Alessandro [Benetton, president of the family company]. As far as we are concerned it could as well be making bricks. It is more exciting, higher profile, but for us it is a purely financial investment."

21 Invest was committed to long-term development in the UK venture capital market, he added.

The logic of the deal had nothing to do with Benetton's Formula 1 racing car company, based in the Cotswolds, or with TWR, the sports car engineer which Benetton owns with Tom Walkinshaw, Mr Bonomi said.

The Lotus name also continues to exist in Formula 1, but it belongs to the Pacific racing team and is not a part of the Lotus sports car group.

This is 21 Invest's second venture capital deal, following the completion in December of the management buyout of Johnson Radley, a Yorkshire mould- maker. A third deal is on the stocks.

Mr Bonomi said although 21 Invest would initially have 100 per cent of Lotus, it planned to organise a management buyout in which Lotus management would have "quite a high minority" stake.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power