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Formula 1 Sold to U.S. Media Conglomerate for $8 Bil

Race czar Ecclestone planning to remain CEO.

by on Sep.08, 2016

Despite a limited US presence, Formula One has been sold to Colorado's Liberty Media.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Though the exclusive Formula One race series has been sold to a U.S. media conglomerate, at least one thing will stay the same: controversial CEO Bernie Ecclestone will remain the CEO of the powerful motor sports empire.

But whether there could be other changes in store remains to be seen now that the Colorado-based Liberty Media Group has purchased F1 for $8 billion. One of the big questions is whether Liberty will take steps to increase the popularity of Formula One in the U.S. market where interest lags compared to Europe and many other parts of the world.

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“We are excited to become part of Formula One,” said Greg Maffei, the CEO of Liberty Media. “We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula One and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.”

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Red Bull Threatening to Quit Formula One

Rule changes have team seeing red.

by on Mar.17, 2015

Parked! Red Bull's Formula One team is considering pulling out of the series due to recent rule changes.

Formula One could lose one of its strongest teams. At least that’s the threat being leveled by managers of the Red Bull team who feel recent rule changes were “the wrong solution” for the wildly popular racing series.

It’s by no means the first time F1 has faced the threat of a walkout by one or more teams. There were threats of a coup by some of the biggest players in the series a decade ago, but cooler heads – and the willpower of Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone – eventually prevailed.

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But this time, the concerns of Red Bull carry more weight considering other teams – and many fans – have also expressed frustration at rule changes that impacted the engines those exotic racers rely on. (more…)

Bernie Ecclestone Buys His Way to Freedom for $100 Mil

German court drops bribery charges.

by on Aug.06, 2014

The 83-year-old Bernie Ecclestone maintains the presumption of innocence, says the German court.

What’s the price of freedom? Apparently, $100 million, at least for Bernie Ecclestone, the controversial boss of the Formula One race series who has been able to convince German prosecutors to halt his bribery trial in return for that hefty fee.

The 83-year-old Ecclestone has long been at the center of rumors and innuendo suggesting shady dealings but only last April went on trial on charges that he paid a former German banker a US$44 million bribe to help him gain control of the F1 series eight years ago.

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Ecclestone has wielded his power ruthlessly in the world of motorsports, beating down several attempts to shift control by some of the larger teams, including Ferrari. In the process, the one-time used car salesman has become a billionaire many times over.

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Germany’s Legendary Nurburgring May Close

F1’s Ecclestone may step in with rescue.

by on Jul.23, 2012

A pair of camouflaged Cadillacs undergoing testing on the Nurburgring's brutal Nordschliefe.

Short of Indy’s brickyard perhaps no race track in the world is as well-known as the German Nurburgring. But the challenging course could soon see its last race.

Dating back to the 1920s, the long and challenging circuit has been regularly used for a variety of motor sports events, such as Formula One but has become increasingly familiar to even non-racing fans because it has become the track of choice for testing by manufacturers such as Porsche, Ford and Cadillac – something they frequently note in commercials.

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But the track’s management warns it is rapidly running out of cash and with the German government rejecting a requested $16 million bailout, the ‘Ring, as it’s frequently called, may be forced into insolvency.  A rescue is still possible, however, and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, not a many known for having a charitable side, is offering to “do everything” he can to help the track survive.

“We will do everything that is commercially feasible,” the 81-year-old Ecclestone told the German weekly Auto Bild, suggesting that his F1 organization would “bear all costs” for the 2013 race though the quid-pro-quo is that it would “also claim all revenues.”

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F1 Boss Ecclestone Facing Possible Bribery Charge

Criminal charges reportedly under study in F1 stock sale.

by on Jun.25, 2012

Is 82-year-old F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone going to face bribery charges?

His name has surfaced in connection with a variety of questionable activities over the years yet Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone has always managed to steer clear of trouble. But now, his luck may be running out as German newspaper Bild reports that German prosecutors are preparing to file bribery charges that could put the British mogul behind bars for up to a decade.

The potential charges stem from the ongoing trial of German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who has been held in a Munich prison for the past 18 months. Gribkowsky’s lengthy trial, which began last October, covers a myriad of charges including corrupt payments, tax evasion and breach of trust against his employer.  It all stems out of the 2006 sale of the Formula One holding company to its current controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners.

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In a deal with prosecutors to reduce his sentence to no more than nine years, the former banker had admitted, “I allowed myself to be bribed.  It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what I did to admit it even to myself – yes, it was bribery, and yes, I should have paid tax.  Even today I have troubles accepting this as reality.”  But the damage came when Gribkowsky adds that, “With hindsight, I know now that I should have said no to (Bernie Ecclestone’s) demands.”

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Formula One’s Ecclestone Bidding for Saab

GM meanwhile selects Alix Partners to begin Saab "wind down."

by on Jan.08, 2010

He turned Formula One into a billion-dollar profit-maker. Can Ecclestone do the same with Saab?

He’s best known for turning the Formula One racing series into a massive money-maker, but now Britain’s Bernie Ecclestone wants to get into the car-making business.  With his partner, Genii Capital, the 79-year-old British entrepreneur is making a last-minute bid to purchase Saab, the Swedish automaker that General Motors is in the process of shutting down.

Ecclestone’s entry into the bidding comes as GM announces it has chosen Michigan-based AlixPartners, “to supervise the orderly wind down of Saab,” the company said in a statement Friday morning.  “GM also confirmed it has received several proposals for Saab and is continuing to evaluate these proposals.”

A bid from the Scandinavian sports car maker Konigsegg collapsed, several months ago, and GM Chairman Ed Whitacre said, earlier this week that he didn’t expect an alternative offer from the Dutch-based specialty automaker, Spyker, to be completed.  As a result, Whitacre said GM was “winding down” operations at the 72-year-old Saab, though he indicated, in a meeting with reporters, that Saab could survive if someone would “Just show up with the money.”

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That’s one thing Ecclestone has plenty of.  He’s transformed F1 from a money-losing series into the world’s premier racing program.  And that translates into multi-billion-dollar empire.  The Fortune 2009 list places the value of holdings by Ecclestone and his family at $3.7 billion.

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