Ecclestone Says F1 IPO May Not Take Place Until Later This Year

Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive officer of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration. Photographer: Santi Burgos/Bloomberg/News.

Formula One Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone said the auto racing series’ planned initial public offering may not take place until later this year because of time pressures and a volatile equity market.

“My feeling is it’s probably a better idea to get everything ready and then go ahead at two months’ notice when the markets have settled down,” Ecclestone, 81, said in a phone interview from London yesterday. “I’m absolutely confident we will do it this year.”

Ecclestone said he’s busy handling business, such as talks with the promoters for a proposed 2013 race in New Jersey, and can’t devote as much time as is necessary to the IPO. The next Grand Prix is in Montreal on June 10, and the 20-race season runs until Nov. 25. He said May 22 the IPO could take place as early as the last week of June.

Formula One’s shareholders led by CVC Capital Partners Ltd. plan to raise as much as $3 billion by selling stakes in the business in Singapore and have contacted so-called cornerstone investors. Graff Diamonds Corp., a London-based jeweler, shelved an IPO in Hong Kong this week, citing adverse market conditions. Facebook Inc. shares have lost more than a quarter of their value since its IPO.

“There’s no rush, the markets aren’t good at the moment, it doesn’t inspire people,” Ecclestone said. “We don’t have to do it now.” Ecclestone said Formula One never set a date so it would be wrong to say it’s delaying the IPO.

Waddell & Reed

London-based CVC, which bought 63.4 percent of Formula One in 2005 and 2006 using $2.5 billion of loans, is cashing in on its investment after racing teams Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren agreed to new terms through 2020.

Earlier this year, CVC sold 21 percent of the company to Waddell & Reed Financial Inc., Norges Bank Investment Management and BlackRock Inc. for a combined $1.6 billion, the private equity firm said on May 22.

Other shareholders include the administrators of bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., who hold 15.3 percent, and Ecclestone, who has 5.3 percent. Ecclestone’s ex-wife Slavica and their two daughters own 8.5 percent through Bambino Holdings Ltd. Ecclestone said neither he nor Bambino plan to sell their stakes in Formula One.

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