Site logo

Could Sainsbury's boss replace Ecclestone?

NEWS STORY
31/03/2013

It is quite literally Formula One's billion dollar question: who will replace the sport's 82 year-old boss Bernie Ecclestone? In fact, it is far more than a billion dollar question as the sale of several minority stakes in F1 last year put a value of 6.6bn ($10bn) on the business and Ecclestone has complete control.

He is the man who pretty much single-handedly transformed Formula One over the past 30 years from an almost-amateur past time into the world's most watched annual sports series. There is no suggestion at all that F1's controlling shareholder, the private equity firm CVC, wants to replace Ecclestone and despite his age, he isn't slowing down. However, it doesn't stop the chatter and the latest word points to someone quite unexpected as a possible successor.

The talk began in industry circles late last year and finally broke cover in the Financial Times in November. It reported that friends of Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King say that his dream job would be to run F1 if Ecclestone were to retire. This isn't as strange as it may seem.

King, who has headed the listed supermarket chain for nine years, happens to be a fan of racing and his son, Jordan, is rising through the ranks of motorsport. Last year he finished second in the northern Europe Formula Renault championship and this year will race in European Formula 3. King senior recently drove into a storm when it came to light that five brands with business ties to Sainsbury's sponsor his son's racing career. It didn't jeopardise his position as Sainsbury's boss and he hasn't publicly signalled his intention to leave. However, talking to Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt recently Ecclestone didn't deny that King could take over F1's driving seat.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Sylt quotes Ecclestone as saying "I've no idea whether the boss of a company like Sainsbury's could do my job. Maybe he could. I wouldn't want to do what he is doing."

The talk about King joining F1 has been fuelled by speculation over Ecclestone's future. No successor has been groomed to take over from him. He is also the subject of a bribery investigation in Germany after F1's former chairman, German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, was found guilty in June of receiving 27.5m from Ecclestone and his family trust in return for allegedly steering the sale of the sport to CVC in 2006.

German prosecutors believe that Ecclestone favoured CVC since it had agreed to retain him as F1's boss. Ecclestone denies this and says that Gribkowsky threatened to make false allegations about his tax affairs to HM Revenue & Customs if he did not pay the money.

Ecclestone has not been charged with any wrongdoing and Sylt recently revealed that CVC expects his name to be cleared by October. CVC has given Ecclestone its full support and the only sign of succession planning so far has been its hiring of head hunting firm Egon Zehnder. As part of CVC's stalled plan to float F1 on the Singapore stock exchange last year Egon Zehnder produced a confidential shortlist of potential replacements for Ecclestone but none has been engaged.

This is not the first time that a retailer has been linked with a top job at F1. Former Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose was tipped to take over as F1's chairman in 2011 after Gribkowsky was arrested, however he ended up being replaced by CVC co-founder Donald Mackenzie. It remains to be seen whether King will fare any better.

LATEST NEWS

more news >

RELATED ARTICLES

LATEST IMAGES

galleries >

  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images

POST A COMMENT

or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment

READERS COMMENTS

 

No comments posted as yet, would you like to be the first to have your say?

Share this page

X

Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2020. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms