Ecclestone: I don’t care who the shareholders are and who is on whatever boards, I run the business
7 November, 2013
Formula 1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has said that much of the motor sport’s value before the sale of a major stake to private equity group CVC was down to his running of the business.
Defending a damages claim of more than $100 million (62 million pounds) brought by German media firm Constantin Medien over that deal, Ecclestone told London’s High Court on Thursday that he remained a hands-on manager at the age of 83.
Ecclestone has denied being part of a “corrupt bargain” to undervalue Formula 1 in order to remain head of a business he had run for decades when CVC paid German bank BayernLB around $830 million for a 47 percent stake in 2005.
Ecclestone said he did not think that jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at BayernLB, had wanted to remove him from his role prior to the sale.
“He gets rid of me and the company is worth nothing,” Ecclestone told the court. ”I’m sorry if I seem to be taking a very arrogant position but I am just talking about facts.”
The legal fallout from the CVC deal risks ending Ecclestone’s long grip on the glamorous motor sport which generates annual revenues of an estimated $2 billion from its series of high-speed races watched by hundreds of millions.
It has also further complicated and stalled plans to list the business on the Singapore stock exchange.
Gribkowksy has been jailed in Germany for 8 and a half years for a $44 million payment he received from Ecclestone and his family trust after the sale. A German court is due to decide next year if Ecclestone should stand trial for bribery.
Ecclestone has told the London court that he paid Gribkowsky 10 million pounds after the German threatened to make false claims about his tax status that risked costing him close to $2 billion.
Giving evidence for a second day in the civil case, Ecclestone said thathe was not concerned about the ownership structure of a business in which he retains a stake of around 5 percent.
“I don’t care who the shareholders are and who is on whatever boards,” he told the court.
“I run the business,” he said, adding that he had spent five hours working on F1 matters on Wednesday evening after a full day in court.
Constantin is a successor to former F1 shareholder EM.TV. The company is arguing that it missed out on a share of the proceeds that it would have been entitled to had the value of the BayernLB stake exceeded $1.05 billion. (Reuters)
Subbed by AJN.