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McLaren get a seat at the top table

22 April 2012

McLaren are to join the board of Delta Topico, the holding company that controls F1, alongside representatives of Ferrari and Red Bull according to reports in the media on Sunday.

News broke in March that Bernie Ecclestone had cut a deal with Red Bull and Ferrari to ensure their support for a new Concorde Agreement to succeed the current one that expires at the end of 2012, leading many of the team bosses out on the cold angry at the prospect of a special deal for the leading teams.

The plans were originally leaked while teams were in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, and indicated that there were no plans to allocate board seats to other top teams such as McLaren and Mercedes. Since the story emerged, rumours have swirled suggesting that Mercedes is considering its involvement in the sport altogether.

Another senior team source said at the time that the news of Red Bull and Ferrari's private deal with Ecclestone was "outrageous" and "against every facet of European competition law."

Now at least McLaren appear to have brokered their own seat on the board of the holding company in return for backing the new agreement and extending their commitment to participating in the sport.

The boardroom deal is also thought to be reward for supporting the holding of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, despite the controversial backdrop of violent civil unrest in the country.

The board of Jersey-based Delta Topico is expected to consider floating on the Singapore stock exchange in the near future, a move that is expected to value the F1 business at around $10bn. According to sources, F1 is said to generate around half a billion dollars a year in profits and cash flow.

F1's majority shareholders, private equity firm CVC, are keen to hold the floatation in 2012 if board approval can be obtained, and Goldman Sachs and UBS are in position to lead the sell-off. Originally this was planned to happen in June, but latest reports say that the floatation has been moved back to October and may be suspended altogether depending on market conditions.

CVC stands to make around $2bn from the sell-off of its 20% stake in the sport, but Bernie Ecclestone is said to be planning to keep his 5.3% stake and to remain F1's chief executive for the foreseeable future.


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