British firm behind new team bid?

The plans for a new Formula 1 team to be started in 2006 may be coming from a British-registered company but it seems that Russian money is behind the plan. Our sources say that the F1 project will be undertaken by a privately-owned, Guernsey-registered, holding company called Midland Resources Holding.

This is the parent company of a group of businesses which trade and invest in the high risk markets of Eastern Europe. It is not clear who owns Midland but the company seems to have its roots in the steel business in Russia, although it has diversified in recent years into a wide variety of different businesses including shipping, property, construction, electricity generation, agriculture and food processing. It has a variety of subsidiaries around the world including the shipping company which is based in Toronto. Midland has invested heavily in Serbia and Montenegro and in 2002 bought the Republic of Armenia's national electricity distribution company for just $37m. The company also owns the Niksic steelworks in Montenegro, which was acquired for $1200 on the understanding that the firm would invest $40m in the facility by 2008.

The interest in F1 may have come about because of a recent investment in a Serbian company called Gumaplast, which produces rubber and plastic seals and gaskets for the automotive industry.

The firm is also believed to be involved in property development in Toronto, the United States and the UK, including an investment in the consortium which is planning to build a Trump Tower in the Canadian city, in league with US entrepreneur Donald Trump.

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