McCombs, Hellmund square off over F1 track shares

San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs might have less than a week to decide whether he's willing to be bought out of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack or instead will purchase the shares of Full Throttle, the company of Tavo Hellmund, once the driving force behind the project.

That's the claim made in a letter sent Wednesday from Hellmund's lawyers to McCombs. The letter contends that, in accordance with a company agreement, a buy-sell procedure began on Jan. 11, and the 90-day period for a relevant response expired Wednesday. The letter also claims McCombs now has until next Wednesday to say he will purchase Full Throttle's shares or McCombs' shares will be considered sold, with the closing on May 25.

Buy-sell, or push-pull, agreements are meant to resolve extreme differences in companies. One party makes an offer to buy out the other with the knowledge that it also then opens up the possibility of a reverse buyout.

According to the letter, Full Throttle is offering to acquire McCombs' 20 percent share for $8 million while claiming that Full Throttle's slightly larger share would be valued at $8.2 million.

If Full Throttle is successful in obtaining McCombs' stake, it could change the dynamics of a $300 million project that has been marred by a rift between Hellmund and Bobby Epstein, who is believed to be the lead investor.

The letter states, "Upon the consummation of the McCombs Units … Full Throttle expects to hold over 40 percent of the equity of the Company and have the power to appoint three of the Company's 5 managers."

McCombs, reached at his San Antonio office on Wednesday, declined to discuss any legal matters regarding the track.

The existence of a buy-sell arrangement and the April 10 and May 25 deadlines first emerged as a footnote in a lawsuit filed last month by Hellmund against McCombs, Epstein and other investors and officers associated with the track.

McCombs made his fortune with car dealerships, sports teams and other ventures. In March, Forbes ranked him as the 330th-richest person in the United States and 913th-richest in the world, with a net worth estimated at $1.4 billion.

The Circuit of the Americas, under construction in southeastern Travis County, is scheduled to host the inaugural Formula One United States Grand Prix in November.

"The big thing is the project itself," McCombs said. "We've got a chance to do something very special." The Statesman

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