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Brakes are on F1 float says Ecclestone

NEWS STORY
26/09/2012

There has been little news about the £6bn flotation of Formula One since the plan stalled earlier in the year and we now know that it is likely to stay that way until the world's economies pick up.

In an article in today's Telegraph by Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone reveals that "the float won't happen this year but next year it will if the markets change."

F1 was expected to list on the Singapore stock exchange in June and Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS were appointed as the joint lead banks. A flotation prospectus was produced but the Initial Public Offering (IPO) never got the green light from F1's board due to the developing financial crisis in the Eurozone.

"No IPOs have gone through, only [football club] Manchester United. I was surprised that they let it go through at the price. First the price and secondly the amount," says Ecclestone. United also planned to float in Singapore but ditched it in favour of New York. A stake of just 10% was listed there in August valuing the club at £1.4bn.

In contrast, F1's controlling shareholder, the private equity firm CVC Capital, plans to list around 20% of the sport. It paid £1bn for F1 in 2006 and made more than its money back earlier this year by selling a 28.3% in the business to Norges, the investment division of Norway's central bank, and US money managers BlackRock and Waddell & Reed. They paid a total of £1.3bn and left CVC with a 35.5% stake. Ecclestone says that CVC is not planning to sell any more of its shares.

There are still questions on F1's horizon. The Concorde Agreement, the contract which commits the teams to race, expires at the end of this year and has not yet been extended. Mercedes was believed to be the only team which was unhappy with the terms on offer but Ecclestone reveals that "Mercedes will be staying. Mercedes had agreed to the terms in the Concorde Agreement and nothing has changed. They haven't signed the commercial agreement yet because they haven't had sight of it yet. The lawyers have been on holiday but that is all on track."

He adds that although "it is not a necessity to get more engine manufacturers. I think it is possible other manufacturers could come in over the next few years." The three newest teams, Caterham, HRT and Marussia, joined F1 in 2010 but none has scored a point yet. "There's always people saying there isn't enough overtaking. If [Caterham, HRT and Marussia] are there there is a lot of overtaking so they serve their purpose."

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