OCTOBER 4, 1999
Ecclestone buying Barcelona?
WE hear whispers that Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is to continue acquiring racing circuits to give Formula One Holdings some more assets and, at the same time, to secure the long-term television rights as these ultimately belong to circuit owners. Barcelona is a good target as it not only hosts a variety of big events each year, notably the Formula 1 Grand Prix and an FIM World Motorcycling Championship event, but it also generates a considerable amount of money from testing revenue as it is the favored circuit for Grand Prix teams.
The track was built and is owned by a consortium which includes the Royal Automobil Club de Catalunya, the Montmelo town council and the regional government, known as the Generality de Catalunya. Having gained considerable international exposure from the facility for the last nine years, the locals may be interested in selling their shares. This will not only get rid of the need to pay running costs but will also raise considerable finance which could be used for other vote-winning projects. Ecclestone does not need to buy all the shares and will be happy to acquire a majority shareholding. He may even be able to fund the deal by offering the Spaniards a reduction in the annual fee for hosting the F1 Grand Prix.
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