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F1 valued at $10bn+ amid float talks

21 March 2012


Grand prix venue Singapore has been targeted as a possible site for the first F1 stock market listing, according various financial sources.

While rumours of a possible floatation have been around for several years, Sky News revealed that a possible listing was imminent during last weekend's Australian Grand Prix, although the story was pulled shortly after initial publication on the internet, before being restored after 'a pause for thought' on behalf of the broadcaster.

According to the story, commercial rights holder CVC Capital Partners is considering listing the F1 'company' - of which it owns 63.4 per cent - in either Singapore or Hong Kong, with suggestions that an initial public offering [IPO] could value the sport at more than $10bn.

The Sky News story reported that CVC, which acquired its stake in the sport six years ago, had engaged investment bank Goldman Sachs to examine a possible share placement with a new investor as preparation for the IPO. It is understood, however, that the offering would only be for part of the company, and that CVC would remain in control of the business. The CVC website claims that F1 enjoys annual sales of $1.55bn and employs 200 people.

No parties reportedly involved in the story have yet offered any official comment, and the fact that it was temporarily pulled by Sky News emphasises how controversial the subject remains, particularly as it went hand-in-hand with reports that FOTA defectors Ferrari and Red Bull were set to be offered enhanced financial deals to remain in the sport - and possibly gain a greater say on how it is run.

Complaints from other teams prompted the chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting to pull the story from the Sky News website while a review of its content was carried out. The article was then republished on Monday afternoon, albeit without controversial quotes apparently acquired from confidential documents. Sources described the period between the story appearing on the website as 'a pause for thought'.

Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper confirms that the remaining seven FOTA members met during the Australian GP weekend to discuss the content of the article, understandably concerned that Ferrari and RBR may stand to gain from their deals with CVC and Bernie Ecclestone, who oversees the commercial rights on a day-by-day basis.

Sources suggest that CVC needs the current Concorde Agreement to be extended before it can successfully gauge the value of its F1 involvement - a process that needs the involvement of FOTA, but Ecclestone has told Britain's Financial Times that he did not recognise the teams' association and insisted that it 'can't sign anything with anyone'.


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