F1 Singapore IPO On Track Despite Legal Issues Of CEO Bernie Ecclestone
A source close to private equity firm CVC Capital said that the company is targeting a $12B market capitalization for F1 "in its planned flotation on the Singapore stock exchange," according to Sylt & Reid of the London GUARDIAN. The initial public offering (IPO) of F1 "is on track to take place in the next 12 months" despite its CEO Bernie Ecclestone "being engulfed in a legal battle over payment of an alleged bribe." The source said CVC "isn't planning to sell more stakes before the float. If you look at Discovery Channel and other comparables, the market is up 25% since we tried to IPO last year so just mathematically applying the new pricing for the company, it is worth 25% more. I certainly think you could shoot for $12B." However, "the road ahead is not clear." Ecclestone "is embroiled in multiple lawsuits" relating to a $44M payment made by him and his family trust to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky shortly after CVC bought F1 in '06 (GUARDIAN, 5/17).
PLAYING DODGEBALL: In London, Tom Bower reported Ecclestone "has learnt to duck and dive to build up and manage his Formula One racing empire." Now, though, "it is all at risk and the veteran gambler faces the biggest threat of his life: German prosecutors have applied to judges for approval to prosecute Ecclestone, 82," who is accused of paying a $44M bribe to a German banker. As a result of the investigation in Germany, U.K. tax authority HMRC "has been investigating whether Ecclestone’s family trusts in Liechtenstein are independent of his control." If they are not, Ecclestone’s tax bill "could be enormous." Countless giants worldwide "have been slain by this 5ft 2in ringmaster, but he may finally have met his match." The German prosecutors believe that "the odds are in their favour, but Ecclestone intends to call their bluff." Ecclestone said, "I’m a firefighter. People keep on lighting fires, and I have to put them out." He added, "I still don't know what the German prosecutors think. I wish I was guilty -- it would be much easier. The charges are a complete load of rubbish" (SUNDAY TIMES, 5/19).