Future of F1 boss Ecclestone could be settled in court

Fri Jan 3, 2014 3:01am EST
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By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Bernie Ecclestone risks losing his decades-old grip on Formula One motor racing this year, when legal action stemming from the sale of a stake in the sport eight years ago reaches a climax.

Ecclestone, 83, is awaiting the outcome of a $100 million damages claim brought by German company Constantin Medien in the London High Court over his involvement in a deal that brought in CVC Capital Partners as the largest shareholder in Formula One.

That decision should come in January or February. Win or lose, it won't be the last that the Formula One CEO hears of the matter because he faces a further damages claim in London and a possible criminal trial in Germany.

CVC has stood by Ecclestone but its co-founder Donald Mackenzie told the High Court in London in November that it would fire him if he was ever found guilty of wrongdoing.

The uncertainty about Ecclestone's fate has helped make it impossible to restart stalled plans to list the business on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Ecclestone, who has built Formula One into one of the world's most lucrative sports over four decades, still works long hours and travels to races around the globe, accompanied by his Brazilian third wife, who is 46 years his junior.

He has long dismissed talk of retirement but the question won't go away.

He suggested to British reporters in November that Red Bull team boss Christian Horner could one day replace him but has since dismissed the idea as little more than a joke with one of his closest friends in the sport.   Continued...

Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone leaves the High Court in central London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville