Formula One Owners Decide Not To Force Resignation Of CEO Bernie Ecclestone
F1 owners have stepped back from forcing the resignation of CEO Bernie Ecclestone after he "was indicted by prosecutors in Germany on a bribery charge," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. After what "appeared to be several tortured hours of deliberation," CVC Capital Partners published a statement on its website late on Wednesday night. But the content "was little more than a statement of intent to do nothing and wait and see what happens to Formula One's controversial" CEO. The notoriously secretive CVC has drawn up a list of potential replacements for Ecclestone, but has "so far refused to groom a potential successor" for F1's £1B ($1.5B) business. Even without the legal actions piling up on the doorstep of his office in London, "Ecclestone is 82 and many inside and outside of F1 are surprised that CVC have shown no desire to put in place arrangements for the future." In the prospectus for the cancelled £6B flotation of F1 on the Singapore Stock Exchange last year, "Ecclestone is listed as a key asset for his unparalled negotiating skills and a bulging contacts book that ranges from circuit owners to presidents, such as Russia's Vladimir Putin." Ecclestone also faces the prospect of another $1B worth of claims from BayernLB and Bluewaters, a private equity group in the U.S., "who are making claims based around the sale of F1 to CVC." All of this casts a long shadow over F1, "even for a sport with such a long history of shocking off-stage politics" (LONDON TIMES, 7/18).
SURVIVING THE STORM: The BBC's Andrew Benson wrote Ecclestone "has ruled Formula 1 for nearly 40 years with a combination of astuteness, cunning, sharp practice and sheer intellectual power arguably unmatched across business and sporting worlds." Can "he survive?" In the normal business world, the answer would be "no." Any CEO who is the subject of such serious criminal charges "cannot hope to hold on to his position." But this is not the normal business world, "and Ecclestone is most certainly not a normal businessman." Why? Probably "because of his remarkable achievements, his all-pervading influence in F1 and, since the sport began trading as a commodity, his success in making money for his bosses." That last attribute may yet keep him in a job, "as long as he can survive the bribery case in Munich" (BBC, 7/17).