APRIL 23, 2002
Apax and David Richards
ITV DIGITAL, the struggling British digital TV station, may not be saved but it is possible that a consortium led by the venture capital company Apax Partners and Stephen Grabiner, the man who founded ITV Digital in July 1999, might bid for the broadcasting licence that would become available if ITV Digital disappears. The sale of the licence would be by auction and would be overseen by the Independent Television Commission.
What is interesting about this is that Apax has strong links with motorsport, notably in the World Rally Championship where the company owns 49% of David Richards's Prodrive company. It was the money raised from that which enabled Richards to buy the commercial rights to the WRC.
Apax is not short of money as it runs more than 20 different investment funds worth more than $5bn.
The Prodrive company said in 1999 when the deal was first done that Prodrive was planning to be floated in between three to five years. Since then, of course, the economic climate has changed considerably but Prodrive may still take that step and use the money raised to buy into BAR. That would certainly be one option although Richards might also negotiate a deal for Apax to fund the purchase of BAR with the long-term goal being to float the team.
Richards has always said that taking Prodrive to F1 would have to involve a manufacturer, would have to be commercially viable and would have to be competitive in the short to mid-term.
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