European Union and F1 - the final clearance

THE European Commission is expected to announce tomorrow that its investigation into Formula 1 is finally over and that the sport is now cleared of any competition problems which have dogged the business for the last five years. Basic clearance for F1 went through in August but there were still some details which had to be cleared up. These have finally been sorted out and it now remains to be seen whether the regulatory clearance will result in any dramatic steps by Kirch or the Ecclestone Family, which now own the commercial rights to F1.

The Ecclestone Family owns 25% of the business and may wish to sell the remaining shares but as the Kirch Group is soon to be merged with its floated subsidiary ProSiebenSAT1 there is unlikely to be a flotation. At the moment Kirch and Ecclestone are trying to refinance the repayments of the Eurobond to improve cash-flow.

Bernie Ecclestone is believed to have a deal to stay in charge of the F1 Group of companies until the end of 2005. Ecclestone is 71 this weekend.

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