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European Union investigation result delayed

NEWS STORY
02/03/2006

The European Union Competition Directorate has announced that it is extending its enquiry into the proposed purchase of SLEC Holdings by CVC Capital Partners, with the decision now not due until March 21.

If successful, the deal would see CVC take virtual control (75%) of F1, having bought the shareholdings of the Ecclestone family and BayernLB, while it pursues the remaining shares, which belong to Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan.

According to Forbes; the commission extends competition inquiries if the companies submit remedies to allay competition concerns or if a national competition authority asks to rule on the deal.

However, the commission has not disclosed which reason applies.

To further complicate matters, and certainly one for the conspiracy theorists, once the EU Competition Directorate began its investigation, BayernLB appointed five new directors to the boards of Formula One Administration (FOA) and Formula One Management (FOM), which prompts the question; why does one appoint new directors to a business one is supposedly selling?

The new deadline could also cause complications elsewhere, since it is believed that that manufacturers which comprise the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) are awaiting the outcome of the investigation, having held talks with both Bernie Ecclestone and CVC.

The March 21 announcement takes them perilously close to Max Mosley's proposed 'manufacturer commitment window', assuming, that is, that the manufacturers are taking any notice of the 'threat'.

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