Formula One: Ecclestone says Singapore IPO still on
SINGAPORE (AFP) - Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has insisted plans for a multi-billion dollar initial public offering (IPO) in Singapore are still very much on despite a lengthy delay in the process.
Ecclestone, speaking at the Singapore Grand Prix late on Saturday, said he was "sure" Formula One would float on the city-state's exchange as soon as the timing is right.
The glitzy, global championship has been mulling a flotation for more than a year, but the process was put on hold in June 2012 due to market volatility.
"It's just a case of when we think is the right time to go to the market.
We're not in a hurry," Ecclestone told AFP. Asked whether it would be in Singapore, he said: "I'm sure so." Formula One is close to finalising a Concorde Agreement with its various teams to determine how to divide up revenues over the coming seasons.
However, Ecclestone indicated the deal was not the major factor governing when the IPO would go ahead.
Singapore, one of 19 stops on this year's schedule, is viewed as an attractive destination for IPOs because of it status as a large, stable and transparent Asian financial centre.
English Premier League football club Manchester United also considered listing in Singapore before it eventually chose New York last year.
Earlier reports said private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, the biggest shareholder, would seek a valuation of more than US$10 billion when the flotation finally goes ahead.
Ecclestone has also received a boost this week after a German court delayed setting a date for a bribery case involving the Briton until next year.
The 82-year-old could face a prison sentence after being charged by Munich prosecutors in July in relation to a $44 million (S$55.1 million) payment he made to German banker.
But a court official said no trial date would be set until next year, because "the judges did not want to put themselves under pressure by making a decision that was too hasty".
Plans for the IPO come as Formula One teams repeatedly complain about rising costs, including the added expense of introducing a new type of engine next year.
"When I came into Formula One, people talked to me about costs coming down but I don't think there's been a single year it's come down," Caterham boss Tony Fernandes said in Singapore.
"I think next year will be probably the highest year - so I think there's something fundamentally wrong." The diminutive Ecclestone controls about a five per cent stake in Formula One, which he has cannily built into an empire with annual revenues of about US$1.5 billion.
He has also cleverly exploited Formula One's cachet and high profile to take the sport into new markets, charging venues large fees for the right to stage races.