MUNICH (Reuters) - German state-backed lender BayernLB [BAYLB.UL] is suing Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for millions of euros in damages in connection with his involvement in the 2006 sale of its stake in the motor racing business.
“BayernLB has filed a law suit against Mr. Ecclestone, the family foundation Bambino and others and is asking for damages of 345 million euros ($423 million) plus interest,” a BayernLB spokesman said on Friday in response to a request for comment on the case.
BayernLB has claimed the British billionaire received unjustified commissions and undervalued its stake in the motor racing business when private equity fund CVC [CVC.UL] became Formula One’s largest shareholder eight years ago.
“When the bank’s stake in Formula One was sold in 2005 and 2006 a board member was bribed. The sales contract was not negotiated, but it was finalised at terms dictated by Mr. Ecclestone, which were disadvantageous for the bank,” the spokesman added.
Ecclestone, who is traveling in Russia at the moment, was not immediately available for comment.
BayernLB had originally demanded up to $400 million from Ecclestone alone, according to financial sources.
But during a court case against him over allegations he paid a $44 million bribe to a former BayernLB board member to facilitate the sale of the bank’s Formula One stake, the public prosecutor and several witnesses said the bank had fetched a good price.
A German court in August halted the bribery trial in exchange for Ecclestone paying a $100 million fee. Under German law, he is considered innocent following the settlement.
Reporting by Jörn Poltz; Additional reporting by Alan Baldwin; Writing by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Mark Potter