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FOH up for sale?

BERNIE ECCLESTONE's frustration with the financial world increased last week when the London Stock Exchange took the unusual step of refusing to list the Eurobond he is trying to launch with underwriters Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. The organization said it would like more information about the deal.

The aim of the bond is to raise $2bn in loans, secured against future income from the sale of Formula 1 TV rights. Ecclestone has already applied for a listing on the less-prestigious Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

Bernie and his advisors are also having trouble convincing merchants banks to join the syndicate. Warburg Dillon Read and Merrill Lynch are both reported to have turned down the invitation because they are worried about the ongoing investigations into F1 by the European Commission.

If the Eurobond idea fails to get off the ground - despite making a lot of economic sense - Ecclestone may be forced to look for a private buyer for the business if he wants to liquidate his assets quickly. His only alternative is to wait three or four years and then try again when the European Commission investigations are all over.

But at 68, Bernie seems to be a man in a hurry to sell.

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