F1 Postpones Singapore Flotation Until Market Conditions Improve
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the much-anticipated $10B flotation of his high octane motorsport series "will not take place until market conditions improve," according to Sylt & Reid of the London TELEGRAPH. F1 "was expected to list in Singapore, but the IPO never got the green light from F1’s board due to the euro-zone crisis." Ecclestone said, "The float won’t happen this year, but next year it will if the markets change. No IPOs have gone through, only [football club] Manchester United. I was surprised that they let it go through at the price. First the price and secondly the amount" (TELEGRAPH, 9/26). PITPASS.com reported that there are still "questions on F1's horizon." The Concorde Agreement, the contract that commits the teams to race, "expires at the end of this year and has not yet been extended." Mercedes was believed to be the only team that was unhappy with the terms on offer, but Ecclestone revealed that "Mercedes will be staying." He added although "it is not a necessity to get more engine manufacturers, I think it is possible other manufacturers could come in over the next few years" (PITPASS.com, 9/26).
F1 DOWN UNDER: SPEED TV's Adam Cooper reported that officials from the Australian state of Victoria said that "they want a better deal" once the current contract for the Melbourne event expires after the '15 race. The expected news came "hot on the heels of Singapore holding out for more favorable arrangements with Ecclestone" before the new '13-17 deal was finally announced last weekend. Victoria Tourism Minister Louise Asher confirmed that the state government subsidized the '12 grand prix by A$56.6M ($58.6M). That figure rose from A$50.0M the previous year "due to escalation fees built into the contract, and it will continue to rise over the next three years." The Liberal/National coalition government is "keen to point out that the deal now in force -- signed by the previous Labor administration in '08 -- was too expensive." Channel Nine reported Asher said, "This is a very, very expensive race, and I personally am not happy with this level of subsidy. The Brumby Labor government signed off on a contract that is too expensive for the taxpayer in my opinion." However, she said that the "race was good for the state" (SPEEDTV.com, 9/26).
NURBURGRING RACE IN SERIOUS DOUBT: RP-ONLINE.de reported that Ecclestone "has not confirmed yet whether the German F1 Grand Prix will be hosted by the Nurburgring racetrack in '13 or not. Ecclestone said, "We currently don't have a contract with the Nurburgring, but we are in talks. We have to start from scratch." The German F1 Grand Prix alternates each year between the Nurburgring racetrack and Hockenheim. The operators of the track "do not want to pay a sanction fee, which means Ecclestone could waive the sanction fee, take on the role of race operator and therefore pocket all the revenue." Ecclestone claimed multiple times that he "wants to keep the racetrack on the F1 calendar." The World Motor Sport Council will finalize the F1 race calendar for '13 on Friday in Paris. Nurburgring operators are "quite confident" that the track will host an F1 race in '13. A Nurburgring spokesperson said, "We currently are in talks and very confident about the outcome" (RP-ONLINE.de, 9/25).
ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK: In Bangkok, Kittipong Thongsombat reported that the kingdom's Governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand Kanokphand Chulakasem has "struck an initial deal" to host an F1 race in '14. Kanokphand said that it was "agreed in principle" that Thailand would host a race in '14." He added, "It will be a city race like that in Singapore and Monaco. It will be a night race like the Singapore Grand Prix." However, Kanokphand said that "further talks are needed to finalize details particulary the fee" (BANGKOK POST, 9/27). Thailand Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpel Silpa-archa said that the government "would shoulder 60% of the total cost, and the rest would be paid by private companies such as Red Bull and Singha." A high-ranking SAT official said that it "may not be possible to organize a race in Bangkok where there are a lot of buildings and sacred places." Thongsombat wrote that the ministry should also ask Bangkok residents if they want a F1 race (BANGKOK POST, 9/26).
F1 GRAND SLAM: In Hamburg, Christian Sylt reported that Ecclestone "is considering emulating tennis' Grand Slam concept for F1." The 81-year-old Brit reveald that his idea is to designate "five one-off races," a bit like "the Grand Slam in tennis." Ecclestone revealed that he was impressed by the "hype" generated by the London Games. Ecclestone said, "I will never again watch the pole vault and the long jump and all, that but because it was the Olympics I watched it. It's hype. Formula One doesn't have the hype." He added: "Maybe if we only had a race every four years it would be the same sort of hype" (FINANCIAL TIMES DEUTSCHLAND, 9/25).
BERNIE BEHIND BARS?: In Munich, Klaus Ott reported that Ecclestone "will soon be indicted in Munich on corruption charges" following a "decisive statement" made by convicted banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. The prosecutor "is preparing a charge of bribing a civil servant," as Gribkowsky was working for state bank BayernLB. Bribing a public official in Germany is more serious than bribing an ordinary citizen. What is more, Ecclestone -- according to Gribkowsky's jailhouse statement -- apparently referred to him as "civil servant," and therefore knew he was bribing an "officer of the state." Thus an accusation against Ecclestone of bribery of public officials moves closer. Gribkowsky said that Ecclestone made his "civil servant" remark in a "derogatory fashion" to him. The public prosecutor's office "wants to complete its investigations against Ecclestone by the end of the fall and bring an indictment" (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 9/26).