Ec­cle­stone re­turns as head of F1 Group

The 84-year-old is reap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive as CVC favourite Paul Walsh with­draws his can­di­dacy

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Bernie Ec­cle­stone has fended off another threat to his stew­ard­ship of F1 and been reap­pointed to the board of the company that runs the com­mer­cial side of the sport.

The an­nounce­ment that Ec­cle­stone will con­tinue as chief ex­ec­u­tive of the F1 Group came shortly after Paul Walsh, the man who had been lined up by ma­jor share­holder CVC Cap­i­tal Part­ners to be the new chair­man, with­drew his can­di­dacy.

But CVC have suc­ceeded in get­ting Walsh, a for­mer boss of the Diageo drinks gi­ant, in­volved in the F1 Group. He has been made a non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, along with for­mer Fer­rari pres­i­dent Luca Di Mon­teze­molo. Peter Brabeck Let­mathe re­mains as chair­man, fol­low­ing a pe­riod of ill health.

Walsh ruled him­self out of the run­ning for the chair­man­ship after a meet­ing with Ec­cle­stone, which took place on the same day that Ec­cle­stone met a group of F1 re­porters. They asked about re­ports that Walsh would want to “rein in” the 84-year-old, to which Ec­cle­stone replied: “He would be unique if he could do that. First he’s got to be ap­pointed, hasn’t he?”

Ec­cle­stone has seen off var­i­ous chal­lenges. He sur­vived two court cases re­lated to the ac­cu­sa­tion that he bribed a Ger­man banker to sell the F1 Group to his pre­ferred bid­der back in 2005, and there have been rum­blings that CVC were un­happy with his role.

They were seek­ing a suc­ces­sor, partly due to Ec­cle­stone’s age and partly be­cause his run­ning of F1 is com­ing un­der in­creas­ing scru­tiny. But Ec­cle­stone de­scribed the need for a suc­ces­sor as “a lit­tle bit of non­sense” and sug­gested long-time ally Sacha Wood­ward-Hill, the group’s chief le­gal ofcer, could do the job.

“If I died now, there are enough peo­ple in the company who could con­tinue run­ning the company the way we’ve set things up,” said Ec­cle­stone. “I think if I was con­trol­ling the board... I would say it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a woman as the chief ex­ec­u­tive.”

Ec­cle­stone said he could do with hir­ing some­one who “could help when it comes to chas­ing for spon­sors and things. Re­ally we need to have some­one who’s ac­tu­ally been suc­cess­ful at do­ing that.”

Ec­cle­stone has seen off var­i­ous le­gal chal­lenges to make a full come­back

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