CORRECTED-Motor racing-Ecclestone says Horner could succeed him - media

Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:06am EST

(Corrects time in penultimate paragraph to next year from next week)

LONDON Nov 22 (Reuters) - Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has named Red Bull team boss Christian Horner as the ideal candidate to succeed him when he finally relinquishes his grip on the sport, British media reported on Friday.

Ecclestone, who has built Formula One into a global money spinner over the past four decades, has always shunned talk of retirement but is now 83 and is facing legal challenges relating to a 2005 business deal.

"Christian would be ideal," Ecclestone told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo. "I would be happy to hold his hand. We could have a transitional period. It needs someone who knows the sport."

Horner, 40, is a Briton like Ecclestone. His Red Bull team and their driver Sebastian Vettel have dominated Formula One for the past four seasons.

Settling the issue of a successor to Ecclestone would make it easier to float the business on the stock exchange, an ultimate aim for private equity firm CVC, the largest shareholder in Formula One.

Ecclestone said he would not favour handing over the role to someone from outside Formula One. "If someone comes in from outside, a corporate type, I don't think I could work with them. It wouldn't last five minutes," he added.

CVC said this week it would sack Ecclestone if he was found guilty of wrongdoing in his dealings with a jailed German banker.

Ecclestone is facing a damages claim in the London High Court over allegations he undervalued the business in 2005 when CVC became the controlling shareholder after buying out banks including BayernLB.

A German court will decide next year whether to put Ecclestone on trial for corruption over a payment he made to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at BayernLB, who was jailed last year.

Ecclestone, who denies wrongdoing, says that he was the victim of coercion by Gribkowsky, saying the German was threatening to make false claims about his tax affairs. (Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by David Holmes)

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