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In what must be one of the quietest deals ever done in F1, GP2 has been sold with its new owner being the company which owns F1 itself. It seems that the sport's owner, private equity company CVC, has been splashing its cash again as the series has been estimated to be worth over £150m.
The deal took place at the end of September and was not announced by press release. Instead it came to light in an article written by Pitpass contributors Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid in today's Daily Telegraph.
The series is run through the Kent-based company GP2 Motorsport which was owned by Bruno Michel, the business partner of Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore who founded the series. On 3 August Michel signed an agreement with Jersey-based companies Gamma Topco and Delta Topco, F1's ultimate holding company, stating that GP2 Motorsport would adopt new articles of association "with effect from the completion of the sale and purchase of the entire issued share capital of the company." The new articles were adopted on 31 August.
It is understood that CVC's investment funds have around a 70% stake in Delta Topco with 20% in the hands of JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers. The family trust of F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone holds the remaining equity with small shares also owned by financial advisers and Ecclestone himself. Gamma Topco is incorporated at the same address as Delta Topco and F1's intermediary holding company Alpha Topco. It also shares its name with a tax-structure report, known as Project Gamma, prepared for the F1 Group by accountancy firm Deloitte.
Following the sale, Michel was joined on GP2's board by Nick Clarry, CVC's UK managing director and board member of over 10 key companies in the F1 Group. Ecclestone isn't a GP2 director but his private investment business, Formula One Promotions and Administration, owns its valuable intellectual property.
The move up a gear acknowledges CVC's commitment to GP2 and seems to mark a step closer to the series becoming an official feeder to F1. It also looks like CVC is keen to bring under one roof all the companies which are core to F1. Under Delta Topco's wings are GP2, F1, their websites and the corporate hospitality and track-side services that service them. What next?
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