Judge holds fire on Bernie case

After two days of complex legal argument, a High Court Judge has reserved his judgement in the case between three banks and Bernie Ecclestone's family trust company Bambino Holdings, which could change the way the commercial side of F1 is run

Judge holds fire on Bernie case

Ecclestone and the banks must now endure a delay of several weeks before Mr Justice Andrew Park announces his verdict.

The case hinges on who has the right to appoint the directors of Formula One Holdings, the company which controls F1. Specifically three banks - JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank, collectively known as Speedy Investments - are disputing the appointment by Bambino Holdings of Luc Argand and Emmanuelle Argand-Rey the board of FOH two years ago.

Those appointments effectively gave Bambino control of the board. Speedy Investments, which gained 75 per cent of the shares of FOH when the German Kirch media group, which had bought into F1, folded owing the banks $1.6 billion, says that the 2002 board appointments are invalid.

Both sides were reported to be confident going into the case, with Speedy's barrister asking for a summary judgement, because, she argued, Bambino Holdings had no defence to the challenge. Ecclestone meanwhile is said to appear typically unconcerned.

The major car manufacturers involved in F1 are watching the case carefully. Their GPWC Holdings organisation is set to launch a new rival to F1 in 2008, should the manufacturers fail to gain a greater say in the running of F1 and a greater share of the profits.

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