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F1's Ecclestone goes on trial

Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 01:48

April 24 - Bernie Ecclestone fights for his name - and his throne as the king of Formula One - as a bribery trial opens against him in Munich. Would a conviction hurt or help the sport's image? David Pollard reports.

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Diminutive in stature perhaps, but a giant of the Formula One stage for four decades. Bernie Ecclestone could end his long dominance of motor sport in prison. That is, if found guilty by a Munich court. The F1 chief denies any wrongdoing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMULA ONE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BERNIE ECCLESTONE, WHEN ASKED WHETHER HE IS CONFIDENT ABOUT WINNING THE CASE, SAYING: "I am confident the sun is shining." F1 generates revenues of over one and half billion dollars a year. Ecclestone's accused of offering a 44 million dollar bribe to a banker - himself jailed on related charges - to ensure a stake in the sport was sold to private equity firm CVC. Ecclestone's 83 - but is still seen as central to the sport's commercial success. Chris Beauchamp is a market analyst with IG. SOUNDBITE: CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, MARKET ANALYST, IG, SAYING (ENGLISH): ''Ecclestone himself says that a deputy for him could bring the coffee in and check his emails, but not much else. He's really a man that has run everything in Formula One over the recent decades. And there's no succession plan in place. No-one else has seen any real ability to step up to the plate. So the company would need to look outside of that experience with all the uncertainty that goes with that as well. So I think it's probably a weaker move for Formula One if he does go.'' CVC remains the largest shareholder in F1. And despite everything, there's still strong interest in a long-awaited IPO. SOUNDBITE: CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, MARKET ANALYST, IG, SAYING (ENGLISH): ''It's been delayed again and again, but that may be to do with lingering issues with the company itself rather than the market appetite. There are plenty of companies out there who would like a piece of the action of F1. It is still a global business with a global brand. And It has managed fairly successfully to expand into new markets.'' Trial hearings will only be held once or twice a week - to allow Ecclestone to carry on with his F1 duties. If convicted, he could face ten years in jail, though it's thought he would serve far less.

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F1's Ecclestone goes on trial

Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 01:48