Ecclestone: I don’t care who the shareholders are and who is on whatever boards, I run the business

Bernie Ecclestone in the dock

Bernie Ecclestone in the dock

Formula 1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has said that much of the motor sport’s value before the sale of a major stake to private equity group CVC was down to his running of the business.

Defending a damages claim of more than $100 million (62 million pounds) brought by German media firm Constantin Medien over that deal, Ecclestone told London’s High Court on Thursday that he remained a hands-on manager at the age of 83.

Ecclestone has denied being part of a “corrupt bargain” to undervalue Formula 1 in order to remain head of a business he had run for decades when CVC paid German bank BayernLB around $830 million for a 47 percent stake in 2005.

Ecclestone said he did not think that jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at BayernLB, had wanted to remove him from his role prior to the sale.

Bernie Ecclestone with Gerhard Gribkowsky during the 2005 Italian GP weekend

Bernie Ecclestone with Gerhard Gribkowsky during the 2005 Italian GP weekend

“He gets rid of me and the company is worth nothing,” Ecclestone told the court. “I’m sorry if I seem to be taking a very arrogant position but I am just talking about facts.”

The legal fallout from the CVC deal risks ending Ecclestone’s long grip on the glamorous motor sport which generates annual revenues of an estimated $2 billion from its series of high-speed races watched by hundreds of millions.

It has also further complicated and stalled plans to list the business on the Singapore stock exchange.

Gribkowksy has been jailed in Germany for 8 and a half years for a $44 million payment he received from Ecclestone and his family trust after the sale. A German court is due to decide next year if Ecclestone should stand trial for bribery.

Ecclestone has told the London court that he paid Gribkowsky 10 million pounds after the German threatened to make false claims about his tax status that risked costing him close to $2 billion.

Bernie Ecclestone emerged as a power in F1 during the seventies - here he is with Jochen Mass and James Hunt

Bernie Ecclestone emerged as a power in F1 during the seventies – here he is with Jochen Mass and James Hunt

Giving evidence for a second day in the civil case, Ecclestone said thathe was not concerned about the ownership structure of a business in which he retains a stake of around 5 percent.

“I don’t care who the shareholders are and who is on whatever boards,” he told the court.

“I run the business,” he said, adding that he had spent five hours working on F1 matters on Wednesday evening after a full day in court.

Constantin is a successor to former F1  shareholder EM.TV. The company is arguing that it missed out on a share of the proceeds that it would have been entitled to had the value of the BayernLB stake exceeded $1.05 billion. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • McLarenfan

    I hate to say it but to a degree Bernie is right he is the one who makes the money he is the one who negotiates the deals and he is the one who put in place all the structure that makes formula 1 the fore front of all the formula races and most of the time he makes the big decisions that have enabled F1 to still be the pinnacle of Motorsport, whoever takes over from Bernie has to have Balls of carbon fiber and an arrogance that is above God with the cheek of the devil who else would turn a mugging in to an advertising campaign for Hublot. ‘See what people will do for a Hublot?’

  • PB

    “He gets rid of me and the company is worth nothing,” So when Bernie passes does that mean the end of F1 as we know it? The next GP may be the last. After all the man is 83.

  • Spartacus

    Bernie runs F1 like a dictatorship.

    Which is exactly as it has to be! Leaving it to the teams they’d all continue to argue between each other that nothing would ever happen.

  • JPSmoove

    All three of you miss the point entirely. Corruption is pervasive and eventually leads to more mis-givings and ugly deeds. It all seems glorious now, but eventually the chickens come home to roost.

  • LotusFan

    Surely a professional team of managers headed by an accountable CEO can make the TV deals and sponsorship deals for F1 that Bernie does. It is a myth that somehow he has single-handedly built F1. If the demand is there the sport will grow with or without Bernie. And if the money stayed in the sport without enriching CVC and Bernie most of the teams wont be bankrupt. Also if the backmarker teams had bigger budgets would they not be more competitive and closer to the rest of the field.
    Look at cricket in India. It is such a money spinning venture not because of 1 man but because there was a market for it.

  • Everylastpound

    As you can see in the left hand side of the photo. Bernies men getting ready to probe for that last shilling..

  • Urko

    If anyone this guy definitely makes me sick! He should be born in jail!!!

  • captain tortuga

    What LotusFan said.