Grapevine: Ecclestone Gets a Raise

The latest accounts filed by Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration group, filed four months late thus incurring a $350 fine, show he paid himself a salary of $4.1m in 2003, treble the amount of the previous year

Grapevine: Ecclestone Gets a Raise

FOA's accounts show a turnover of $562m, down from $643m in 2002, whilst profits rose $31m to $158m, mainly achieved through the axing of the profit-sapping pay-per-view digital television operation, Ecclestone's brainchild which petered out and was closed at the end of 2002.

During 2003 FOA made payments of $232m against the $1,4bn bond taken out against the sport's future revenues in 1999 by Ecclestone's family trust, Bambino Holdings, of which 75% is now held by the trio of banks (BayernLB, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan) controlling the sport, leaving a balance of $716m, which is expected to be cleared this year.

According to a report in London's Evening Standard, Formula One faces another bond issue: allegedly the 10 teams are attempting to raise $900m to purchase the banks' and Ecclestone's shares as an alternative to forming their own breakaway grand prix series. These shares had previously been valued at $2,2bn by Kirch Media, the collapsed German group which had borrowed heavily from the banks to finance their purchase.

Other sources indicate the banks are considering incorporating concessions presently operated by the hugely profitable Allsport operation, holder of rights to Formula One's circuit advertising and Paddock Club, into SLEC, the holding vehicle made up by the banks' Speed Investments and Bambino, using the revenues to placate the teams, who are collectively screaming for greater shares of the sport's revenues.

As a Swiss-based company, Allsport makes no profit or director disclosures, but is believed to have netted profits of $100m in 2004.

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