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Ecclestone selling shares in Formula One

By Alan Baldwin

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Bernie Ecclestone is set to make a quick $29 million from Liberty Media's takeover of Formula One after being deposed as the sport's commercial supremo this week.

Liberty completed their $8 billion takeover on Monday and a subsequent filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed 86-year-old Ecclestone was offloading 950,599 shares.

The Series C Liberty Formula One common stock shares were trading at around $30.73 on Thursday.

Other associates of Ecclestone, including Martin Sorrell who is the chief executive of advertising agency WPP and served as an independent director of Formula One's parent company, are also cashing in.

A total of 1,357,700 of the Nasdaq-listed shares are being sold immediately.

Ecclestone, who was replaced by Chase Carey as chief executive on Monday, will retain a holding of 896,639 shares after the offer.

The prospectus, posted on the Liberty Media website, also revealed financial details about the series that had hitherto been kept confidential.

Formula One recorded total revenue of $1.7 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2015, with the majority (primary revenue) derived from race promotion, broadcasting and sponsorship arrangements.

Gross profit in 2015 was $557 million, compared to $571 million in 2014.

The revenue from television rights agreements in 2015 represented 32.3 percent of the total.

Primary revenue for the nine months to Sept 30, 2016, increased by $47 million on the corresponding period of 2015 with race promotion fees $39 million higher due mainly to variances in the calendar.

Last season had a record 21 races whereas 2015 had 20.

Broadcasting revenue over the nine months was up by $18 million following renewals with three broadcasters and other 'contractual uplifts'.

As of September 30, Formula One had cash and cash equivalents of $675 million with the sport paying interest of $189 million. No dividends were declared or paid over the nine month period.

Payments to teams in 2015 came to $904 million, up from a previous $863 million.

The prospectus revealed that "the consent of a majority of certain teams" is required for there to be more than 20 races in a season or in excess of 17 where more than 60 percent of the total is outside of Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

Among the risks highlighted were terrorist acts and the possibility of a rival series being established.

"The general risk of a terror attack has increased recently in a number of the countries in which events are held," it noted.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

 

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