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CVC, Bernie Ecclestone sued over 2005 F1 buyout

20 Nov 2012

European buyout house CVC conspired with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone over its purchase of a $650m stake in the business in 2005, a lawsuit from a competing bidder has claimed.

Bluewaters Communications Holdings says in a New York filing that it was the highest bidder for the motor racing company, but was prevented from buying it by Ecclestone, pictured, CVC and German bank BayernLB.

Bluewaters’ bid was backed by Apollo Global Management and King Street Capital Management.

Ex-BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribowsky, who was jailed for more than eight years in June after being convicted of corruption charges relating to the F1 sale, is also named as a defendant in the suit.

Bluewaters claims London-based CVC was handed the deal thanks to a $44m bribe paid by Ecclestone in return for him being allowed to stay on as F1 head.

Gribkowsky has already admitted receiving $44m from Ecclestone and Bambino, a trust linked to his ex-wife, in connection with the sale.

BayernLB inherited control of F1 after a $988m loan to defunct German media group Kirch, which then owned the company, went sour.

As Kirch was unwound in 2002 the bank became the major shareholder in the sport’s holding company, and installed Gribkowsky as chairman. Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan also ended up holding stakes thanks to bad loans.

Ecclestone was a minority shareholder at the time but his control over Formula One Administration, the sport’s main operating company, left him in de facto charge.

The 81-year-old racing magnate, who told the German court he made the $44m payment because he was being “shaken down” by Mr Gribkowsky, told the FT he did not know what Bluewaters was suing for or why.

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