Ecclestone says he will fight BayernLB damages claim

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has said that he will fight a $400 million damages claim that German bank BayernLB is planning to file in London over the sale of the motor racing business in 2005.

The fresh threat of legal action is the latest fallout from the deal eight years ago, in which private equity fund CVC acquired control of Formula 1 from a group of banks which included BayernLB.

German company Constantin Medien is already seeking more than $100 million from the 83-year-old Ecclestone in a separate case which is close to concluding in the High Court in London.

Ecclestone is accused of undervaluing Formula 1 to favour a sale to CVC that kept him in charge of a business he had built up over three decades.

“If we get sued, we’ll probably have to go to court, which is what we did with this last [Constantin] case,” Ecclestone told Reuters on Thursday.

BayernLB had said on Wednesday that it planned to bring a $400 million damages claim against Ecclestone in London next month.

Ecclestone said his lawyers had told him that the vast majority of such damages claims were settled out of court, but he had no intention of doing so. “They picked the wrong person with me,” said the British billionaire.

Legal problems stemming from the CVC sale threaten to end Ecclestone’s long hold on a sport that attracts hundreds of millions of television viewers to its series of grand prix races held around the globe.

The legal issues also make it hard to revisit stalled efforts to launch an initial public offering of Formula 1 on the Singapore stock market.

CVC paid about $830 million for BayernLB’s 47 percent stake in F1, after the business had fallen into the hands of a group of banks following the collapse of German media company and controlling shareholder Kirch.

A Munich court in 2012 jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at BayernLB, for tax evasion and bribery for taking a $44 million payment from Ecclestone and his family trust after the sale.

Giving evidence in the Constantin case in the High Court last month, Ecclestone said that he had paid Gribkowsky 10 million pounds ($16 million) as an “insurance policy” because the German banker was threatening to make damaging claims about his tax affairs to the British authorities.

He said that the payment had nothing to do with the CVC deal.

The case is expected to close on Friday but a judgement is not expected until January at the earliest.

A Munich court is also expected to decide in the new year whether Ecclestone will have to stand trial for bribery over the payment to Gribkowsky. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • McLarenfan

    Bernie should sue BayernLB for damages as the idiots can’t make up their minds but keep spouting cr*p one moment they made a killing next they didn’t is it possible that the money evaporated on its way to the Vault.

  • Bec

    Mr. E should counter sue,

    BayernLB have gone on record saying how delighted they were with the price they got, as it was above the book value.

    But after all they are a bunch of Banksters.

  • McLarenfan

    I agree every time you hear the word money the second is BANKER and lets be honest they are all a bunch of Greedy BANKERS every last one.

  • Urko

    Aaaa, i see you are defending little criminal. Criminal is a criminal, no matter what passport does hi have. Hope he gets in prison…soon!!!

  • Urko

    Just seeing this guy makes me sick!!!

  • David

    So many trying to get money out of F1. So lucky there are lots of fans willing to pay. We don’t get appreciated tho, do we, Bernie?

  • vincent

    @bec – i agree
    @urko – you hope he goes to prison for what. i dont think anyone is defending bernie for getting his hustle on and he can defend himself. me personally i find it amusing he done it to some banksters and how many of them went to jail.

  • JR

    Gribkowsky’s lawyer Daniel Amelung, on BBC TV, made the same insinuations about Ecclestone and the Bambino trust which Gribkowsky denies led to the £26.9m payment.

    “It’s a little bit ridiculous to say that he was blackmailed with informations about Bambino because it’s an open secret that Mr Ecclestone is the deciding man behind Bambino.”

    Which means Ecclestone is telling the truth, and Gribkowsky lied to the German court.

    Or will Amelung backtrack and say he was confused?