Ecclestone, Banks Close to Deal

Formula One's shareholder banks are close to agreement with the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone in a dispute over the control of commercial rights, a High Court judge was told on Tuesday

Ecclestone, Banks Close to Deal

Lawyers told the judge "the parties are close to agreeing something" and asked him to set aside time on Wednesday to hear another submission.

"I think this will concentrate minds and allow a settlement to be reached," one lawyer said.

The judge, Justice Peter Smith, said he would hear the submission at 1700 GMT on Wednesday.

A court case was due in May pitting Formula One Holdings, now controlled by the banks after legal action last year, against Ecclestone's Formula One Administration (FOA).

The banks, Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers, own 75 percent of Formula One holding company SLEC but want their stake translated into influence over Ecclestone's operating companies, like FOA.

FOA has three board members, one of them Ecclestone and another his lawyer Stephen Mullens. The banks acquired their stake as a result of the collapse of Germany's Kirch media empire.

The case is being closely watched by carmakers who are threatening to launch a rival series from 2008 if they do not get a greater share of Formula One's commercial income.

The commercial agreement covering the sport runs out at the end of 2007. World Champions Ferrari have already broken ranks with the carmakers to sign a unilateral deal with Ecclestone until 2012.

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