Ecclestone and CVC face £409m lawsuit
20 November 2012 – Bernie Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners, the company which he represents and which holds a majority stakeholding in F1, are facing a £409m lawsuit from American firm Bluewaters Communications Holdings. The company was one of those which failed to buy a controlling stake in the sport, when CVC was the winning bidder in 2006.
Six years ago, CVC acquired the majority stakeholding of F1 as it submitted a £1.1 billion-pound bid, taking the reigns from German bank BayernLB. However, according to London newspaper City A.M., Bluewaters argues that it was the rightful owner because it offered ’10 percent above any genuine bona-fide offer put forward by any other competing buyer’. Furthermore, the Bluewaters lawsuit claims that Ecclestone bribed BayernLB to sell off its 47.2 percent stake to CVC, which had promised to keep him as F1’s Chief Executive whereas Bluewaters gave ‘no commitment to him in that regard’.
When questioned over the matter by City A.M., Ecclestone responded:
“(Bluewaters) put it in writing that, no matter what anyone else paid, he would give 10 percent more - but unless there is a bank guarantee it doesn’t really matter. It’s hard to believe anyone would do that.
"What would be interesting to find out is: at the time, was he in a position to pay that and where would he have got the money from? It’s just a tiresome lot of aggravation. His claim is an absurd claim. He didn’t know that the other bidders were going to pay.”
Ecclestone is still being investigated by German prosecutors over the case of Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer of BayernLB who in June 2012 was found guilty of receiving a £27m bribe from the Englishman, for aiding CVC’s rise to the top of the F1 stakeholding; it was proven that BayernLB was not aware of this until late 2010.