BayernLB open to a deal to end dispute with Formula One boss Ecclestone

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 21, 2014 8:59 AM

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German bank BayernLB [BAYLB.UL] on Thursday signaled it was open to a compromise to end a legal fight with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone relating to his involvement in the 2006 sale of its stake in the motor racing business.

BayernLB chief executive Johannes-Joerg Riegler indicated a deal was still possible after the lender rejected a 25 million euro ($33 million) settlement offer earlier this month.

"If the overall package is right, we wouldn't be closed to it," Riegler told a conference call with journalists after unveiling the lender's results for the first half of the year.

State-backed BayernLB claims the 83-year-old British billionaire collected unjustified commissions and undervalued its stake in the motor racing business when private equity fund CVC became Formula One's largest shareholder eight years ago.

BayernLB had originally demanded up to $400 million from Ecclestone, according to financial sources. But during a court case against him over allegations he paid a $44 million bribe to a former German banker to facilitate the sale of BayernLB's stake, the public prosecutor and several witnesses said the bank had got a good price.

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A German court earlier this month halted the bribery trial in exchange for his paying a $100 million fee. He is considered innocent under German law following the settlement.

Riegler said he was unsure how BayernLB's dispute with Ecclestone would develop.

"It is still open whether it will come to a settlement or we will have to sue," he said.

(Reporting by Andreas Kroener and Jonathan Gould; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)