Will there be a float?

THE recent weeks have seen increasing speculation suggesting that Bernie Ecclestone has given up the idea of floating his Formula One Holdings Ltd. company and that he may dispose of the business in a private sale. Ecclestone himself continues to say publicly that the flotation will go ahead but the problems with the teams and the European Commission, allied to the bad publicity which Ecclestone received in England over his donation to the Labour Party last year, have dented the confidence in business circles that the flotation will live up to early expectations.

The problem for Ecclestone is that there are not many private buyers around willing to spend the kind of money he wants for FOH and most of the companies that might be interested may prefer to wait to see what happens with the EuropeanĘCommission as they might then be able to bid for the commercial rights to F1 against Ecclestone.

The fact remains that the float will go ahead if the investment bankers involved believe there is a successful business to be sold - whether or not Ecclestone is involved. That depends on the legal battle being fought between the FIA - which leases the commercial rights to Ecclestone - and the European Commission. All the indications, however, are that the business is sound and profitable, and thus once the paperwork is sorted out the float will go ahead - unless someone comes along in the interim and offers Ecclestone a deal he cannot turn down. And that is not very likely to happen.

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