Ecclestone hints at F1 flotation delay

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Friday indicated that a planned flotation of the sport on the Singapore stock exchange may have to be delayed due to the global economic crisis.

In an interview with CNN television, Ecclestone said he felt that the continued uncertainty on the world markets could mean the proposed sale would have to be reconsidered.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which has a majority stake in Formula One's holding company, had hoped to initiate the flotation within months. A source close to the deal told AFP on Tuesday that it was worth some $2.5 billion.

"The market doesn't look too bright after that little bit of a problem with Facebook," he said, referring to the popular social networking site's recent flotation, which saw shares slump sharply, angering investors.

"So, I think they are going to wait and see," he added.

An F1 initial public offering (IPO) would likely translate into a profit for CVC Capital Partners, which owns 63.4 percent of F1's business after it bought a majority stake in the racing company for $2.5 billion in 2006.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone owns 5.3 percent of the business. Analysts say he could gain financially if the stocks rise but the IPO would dilute some of his powers.

Despite the likely postponement of the proposed flotation, which would be the biggest IPO in Singapore this year if it goes ahead, Ecclestone said he was more optimistic about a deal to commit all the existing teams to remain in F1 until 2020.

"Well, we've just got people now, all the current teams, to sign up until 2020 and then I hope another 10 years after that and then forever. Everybody has agreed with it," he said.

Asked about Mercedes' enthusiasm to remain in the sport, amid reports that the German-owned team were unhappy with the deal on the table, he said: "You'll have to wait to see if Mercedes have.

"But I'm confident everything with Mercedes will be fine."

He added: "I appreciate and support Mercedes probably more than anyone in F1. But the way it was done was on results and we couldn't falsify the results because if we did other people would complain."

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