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Poor old flotation

THE flotation of Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Holdings company is to be delayed until the winter. The delays have been forced upon Ecclestone and his advisors - the investment bank Salomon Brothers - because of worries in the financial world that there are too many problems outstanding surrounding FOH.

The dispute between Bernie and some of the F1 teams is one of the issues. Williams, McLaren and Tyrrell are refusing to agree to the package which Ecclestone is offering and have appointed rival investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson to advise them. They have, it appears, been joined by Arrows although it is unclear whether Tom is acting as a rebel or trying to get the two sides to meet in the middle. The other seven teams are all apparently behind Ecclestone. Some of them may not like all the details of the agreement but most have had to accept that Ecclestone is a better bet for the future than the rebel teams.

The team problems are not as significant as some in F1 believe as almost everyone in the F1 paddock believes that it is essential that the float does go ahead eventually and that the problem is one of money and ego. The first problem can easily be solved but the clash of egos is going to be more difficult to settle.

The real problems for the flotation appear to be in the legal standing of the TV contracts between the various broadcasters and FOH, particularly in the light of the recent court decision in Germany over the televising of European Truck Racing. We hear that the banks underwriting the deal want to confirm the legality of ALL the TV contracts and this is likely to take some months.

There have also been worries about the financial problems of Bavarian media baron Leo Kirch - who is expected to provide around 25% of the income for the floated Formula One Holdings via his DF1 digital TV service.

DF1 has been in trouble since British Sky Broadcasting scrapped plans to take a share in DF1 and a German bank refused to loan Kirch money to cover the losses. Kirch is believed to have missed payments to FOH but is planning to speed up the float of another TV channel - ProSieben - to fund DF1's losses. ProSieben is one of Europe's most profitable TV companies.

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