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Old 02-26-2002, 07:42 AM
Norm C32
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``I get 86 hours a year with the (Mercedes) star on television screens.''

Interesting article on German media group Kirch's holding of F1. Sounds like no one wants to playhouse with Bernie E.

Norm


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Carmakers say not in F1 talks yet but eyeing price

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VALENCIA, Spain, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Carmakers involved in Formula One racing have not yet entered talks with struggling German media group Kirch but could buy the rights if the price was low enough, a DaimlerChrysler board member said.

Speculation has mounted that a group of major auto makers could pounce on the misfortunes of heavily indebted Kirch, which has a 75 percent stake in Formula One holding company SLEC, and buy the marketing rights to F1 rather than set up a rival motor racing championship as they had pledged.

``I have said before there are no talks (with Kirch),'' DaimlerChrysler board member and Mercedes Benz chief Juergen Hubbert told reporters in Spain late on Monday.

``First of all the sum would have to be lowered to something realistic, then you could talk,'' he said.

``I have an idea what a realistic sum would be, but I am not going to tell you what that is.''

Hubbert has repeatedly poured cold water on suggestions the carmakers might be seeking to buy Kirch's F1 stake. But his comments were the closest he has yet come to acknowledging that the companies would buy if the price was right.

Angered by Kirch's entry into Formula One, five carmakers with links to the championship -- DaimlerChrysler, BMW, FIAT, Renault and Ford -- said last year they would set up a rival racing championship once an existing agreement with Formula One runs out in 2008.

A crisis at Kirch, which is trying to restructure up to seven billion euros in debt, has raised the possibility of the carmakers buying Formula One off the shelf, a move which would offer Kirch some breathing space.

Kirch founder Leo Kirch was quoted in Monday's edition of Germany's Der Spiegel weekly as saying he would only give up the Formula One stake as a last resort.

``The purchase of Formula One... was a peak in my career so far. Having to give it up would be really bitter,'' he told the magazine.

But, indicating the carmakers were also prepared to play hardball, Hubbert said they could still go ahead with their rival championship and even have it up and running in two years.

He said the carmakers would choose such a course not to ensure they retained more money from Formula One, but to keep their brands in the public eye. Daimler unit Mercedes has a 40 percent stake in the McLaren team.

``We are not interested in making money, we are interested in the public platform,'' Hubbert said. ``I get 86 hours a year with the (Mercedes) star on television screens.''


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Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters Limited content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters Limited. Reuters Limited shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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  #2  
Old 02-26-2002, 07:16 PM
ymsin's Avatar
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Malaysia
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I dare speculate that the possibility of the carmakers taking over is high ... any takers?
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  #3  
Old 02-27-2002, 08:03 AM
Norm C32
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A carmaker taking over would be in the best interest. At least you would think. While DC sponges from MB what seems to be every available ounce looking for profit for its operation, BMW missed their oppurtunity to reintroduce a follow-up model to the 2002 in year 2002.

Kirch's debt is the biggest turn off.

Norm

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