Site logo

The masters of F1's universe speak out at last

NEWS STORY
17/03/2009

When F1's commercial rights were bought by the finance firm CVC in 2006 it started a huge amount of speculation as to who would really ultimately control the sport. Soon after the deal was announced it was discovered that CVC hadn't even used its own money to buy F1 but had instead used a $2.7bn loan from RBS and Lehman Brothers. This completely changed the landscape of control in F1.

To get the loan CVC had to pledge that if it missed its annual $185m ($260m) repayments the lenders would get the valuable commercial rights to F1. But the financial twists and turns didn't stop there. We all know now that RBS and Lehmans hit the wall last year and to quickly recoup the F1 loan both banks sold the right to repayment.

The new debt owners hold the real keys to the future of F1 since if they don't get their annual F1 loan repayments they could end up owners of the sport's commercial rights and to get their money back they would surely sell them on. In short, they could decide the future of F1 - who owns it and who runs it, which in turn could affect where it races and even where it is broadcast. They obviously are also given fantastic foresight of F1's revenues since any decrease could affect the repayments due to them.

Who these mysterious debt owners are is unknown. Funds such as the Chicago-based Citadel (www.citadelgroup.com) bought the debt initially but the company says that it sold it on again. Nothing has been heard from the current owners. Until now.

Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt has not only interviewed one of the debt holders but his article about this in today's Financial Times reveals how the economic downturn has only just begun to batter F1. It is the teams that have most to lose.

We have all seen how Honda, RBS and ING have pulled out of F1 due to the downturn. But today's article shows how it is also sending spectator numbers plummeting and driving sponsors away from F1's corporate hospitality as they try to cut costs and disassociate themselves from its image of lavish spending. "Although this isn't the largest of F1's revenue streams it is the most at risk," says one of the debt holders who contacted Sylt with questions about the future of F1 and its teams. Sylt knows his identity but is sworn to secrecy.

F1's commercial rights generate around 891.9m ($1.3bn) in annual revenues (see below) with fees from hosting races bringing in around a third of this, TV rights making a similar sum and the remainder split roughly between income from trackside advertising and corporate hospitality. F1's Paddock Club has a champagne bar, gourmet banquet and guided tour of the pits, but at an average cost of 2,183 ($3,070) for a one-day pass, it's no surprise that companies are cutting corporate hospitality costs.

In recent years at the Australian GP, BMW has entertained up to 400 clients with its own grandstand and bar and restaurant area costing it close to 450,000. However, it is axing this entirely this year with Foster's also cutting its spending on the race. The departure of ING and RBS will also leave CVC with a 21m ($30m) hole from the amount they were spending on trackside advertising and, more immediately, they are both cutting their corporate hospitality budgets this year.

Sylt says that RBS is expected to spend almost nothing on F1 corporate hospitality this season and ING is likely to make a similar cut since it will be reducing its entire F1 budget by 40% in 2009. This effect will filter down throughout the season with Bahrain already reporting a "downturn on our corporate hospitality bookings."

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 - 2019. All rights reserved.

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