pounds 2bn price tag on Formula One

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The Independent Online
Formula One, the motor racing group, is set to announce details of its forthcoming stock market flotation with sources close to the negotiations saying an official statement could be made as early as this week.

The price tag attached to the business will be around pounds 1.5bn-pounds 2bn, far less than originally anticipated. However the timetable of the float has been accelerated with advisers to the once-stalled listing saying it should be completed by July.

The on-off float has been given the green light after Formula One entrepreneur Bernie Ecclestone managed to secure the agreement of the racing teams which compete in the Grand Prix events. The terms of the listing will see Mr Ecclestone's stake reduced to around 30 per cent, worth up to pounds 600m. The race teams such as Williams, Ferrari and McLaren, and the track operators, will hold a combined stake of 10 per cent. The Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), which owns the rights to Formula One racing, will also hold 10 per cent. The remaining 50 per cent of shares will be offered to outside investors.

However, insiders say the deal is so complex that the timetable and the details on eventual shareholdings could be subject to change. They could not confirm whether all the racing teams had agreed to the terms. The teams were described as being "broadly on board".

It was a potentially damaging dispute between Mr Ecclestone and the teams which threatened to scupper the listing. The dispute centred on the details of what was included within Formula One's ownership. FIA has agreed to cede the rights to Formula One for 25 years in return for a stake in the quoted company.

The scale of the Formula One float is far more limited than earlier suggestions. Initially the business was scheduled to be valued at around pounds 2.5bn with listings on stock markets around the world. It is understood it will now be a London-only listing.

Details of the float plans were revealed to City analysts last Friday, along with information on the board structure. Helmut Werner, the former head of Mercedes Benz , will be the Formula One chairman with Mr Ecclestone as chief executive. Marco Piccinini, the former manager of the Ferrari Formula One team, will be deputy chief executive. David Wilson, the former finance director of Hilton Hotels, will be finance director. Robert Rowley, finance director of Reuters, and Walter Thoma, head of Philip Morris's European operations, have been named as non-executive directors.

Salomon Brothers, the investment bank which is advising on the float, has also revealed trading forecasts for the company. Indicative figures show it should make a pre-tax profit of pounds 85m this year on turnover of pounds 200m.

Mr Ecclestone is hoping to make more use of the Formula One brand. He has plans for a chain of themed restaurants while branded merchandise will be sold trackside. There are also plans to extend the number of racing circuits which play host to the Grand Prix events.

Mr Ecclestone is keen to include Korea and Malaysia. The inclusion of more Asian events would boost the sport in these emerging markets.