McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh sees no benefit to proposed F1 flotation


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The Independent Online

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes supremo Bernie Ecclestone's plans to float Formula One on the stock exchange would bring no benefit to the sport.

It has been suggested that as part of a new Concorde Agreement - the tri-partite pact that binds together the teams, the FIA and F1's owners - Ecclestone would prepare an initial public offering (IPO) in Asia, most likely on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

It is understood CVC Capital Partners, the primary owner of F1 with a 63.4% stake, would make part of that available for the IPO.

With Singapore Stock Exchange rules requiring a minimum 15% be put up for float, on that basis there is the prospect an IPO would raise close to £1billion.

Whitmarsh, however, said: "I don't think it will benefit us as a team, but I have no detail of proposals anyway.

"Generally flotations and change of ownership are not done for the benefit of a sport. What we, as race teams, need to concentrate on is putting a show on here, and the owners can decide what they do with the asset."

Asked whether McLaren as an organisation would be interested in purchasing a stake in F1, Whitmarsh dismissed the idea.

"Our business is we are a race team, although we've a few other businesses as well," added Whitmarsh.

"But being owners of F1 is something that is not in our plans."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was of the same mind as he said: "We are an entrant, a team and don't see the necessity to have a shareholding."

As for the prospect of F1 going public, Horner said: "At the end of the day it is not down to us.

"It's down to the shareholders, CVC and Bernie. It's their business, not the teams."

Regarding any benefit to F1, Horner said: "Possibly, but we are not involved in the detail.

"I heard there is potential discussion, and it is an interesting concept."

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez, a renowned businessman in his own right, recognises the fact an IPO would still mean CVC retaining ownership of F1, albeit with a reduced share.

"Flotations can mean many things," said Lopez.

"If you take to the market with a minority share, it doesn't change anything with regard to ownership.

"It may bring more money to the sport, but if there is no detail as to what will be IPO'd or not, I don't think there is much to discuss because it can mean many things to many people.

"It really depends on what you are going to take to the market."