Disclosure rift hampers Formula One sell-off

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The Independent Online
Advisers to the planned pounds 2bn flotation of the Formula One motor racing business are locked in negotiations with the Stock Exchange over the level of financial disclosure in the prospectus for potential investors.

The latest difficulty in the path of the flotation is thought to hinge on how much detail of the organisation's exclusive Grand Prix television rights deals should appear in the document. Salomon Brothers, the US investment bank acting for Bernie Ecclestone, owner of the various promotional businesses, was expected to deliver a draft prospectus to the Exchange today.

Officials at the Exchange are anxious that the final prospectus should contain sufficient financial information about Mr Ecclestone's business empire to enable interested investors to make a judgement about the company's prospects. An important factor is the breakdown of revenue from television rights, the business's main income generator. Detail of the rights payments for individual countries is regarded as commercially confidential and Mr Ecclestone's camp is believed to be concerned at the reaction if comparative figures were published.

The document is expected to give reassuring projections of total revenues to back up the ambitious pounds 2bn provisional valuation. It is thought as much as 80 per cent of the future revenues are guaranteed by existing rights deals.

It also emerged yesterday that no final decisions have been taken about the proportion of the company which will be sold to the public. Advisers for Mr Ecclestone had previously suggested 50 per cent would be publicly floated, but it is thought he may sell less than 50 per cent, depending on the level of interest from investors.