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Ecclestone may sell F1 stake

ESPN Staff
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Ecclestone faces a court case in Germany next month © Sutton Images

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he plans to sell his 5.3% stake in Formula One when private equity firm CVC, the controlling shareholder, exits the business.

CVC currently holds a 35% stake but their plan to exit in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Singapore stock exchange in 2012 was put on hold by the eurozone crisis, while Ecclestone's bribery charges have also delayed matters.

"If I sell I would sell with CVC. If somebody wants to buy CVC's shares but doesn't need mine then I will keep them," Ecclestone said.

Next month Ecclestone goes on trial for allegedly paying part of a $44 million bribe to steer the sale of F1 to CVC in 2006, a charge he denies. Ecclestone stepped down from the board of F1's parent company Delta Topco until the trial comes to a close in September.

The estate of collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers, the third largest shareholder in F1, is also looking to sell its 12.3% stake by June 30 to pay its creditors. The Telegraph reports CVC, who have first refusal if any minority F1 shareholder wants to sell, is keen to retain its stake in F1 as long as its value is accelerating.

"Lehman had the opportunity to sell lots of times," Ecclestone said. "Lots of people tried to buy those shares and they won't sell. Maybe they would sell at an over-rated price. The obvious thing is for them to sell along with CVC too."

CVC is understood to have held early stage talks with American media mogul John Malone's Liberty Global, which has teamed up with Discovery Communications, to consider a takeover of Delta Topco.