Saturday February 24th, 2001
German media group Kirch said on Saturday it had received bank guarantees of around $1.5 billion that will enable it and debt-laden partner EM.TV & Merchandising to increase their stake in Formula One holding SLEC.
A Kirch spokesman said his company received guarantees for $550 million to buy 25 percent in SLEC now held by EM.TV as well as for $987 million for an option to purchase a further 25 percent in SLEC.
EM.TV currently owns 50 percent in SLEC with the other half held by racing mogul Bernie Ecclestone.
If exercised, the option would leave Kirch and its partner controlling 75 percent of SLEC and Ecclestone 25 percent.
A spokesman for EM.TV said his company had received Kirch's confirmation of financing for the Formula One stake.
Ecclestone and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) are opposing the purchase, which requires the approval of the FIA's general assembly.
The presidents of 157 motor sports organisations from 118 countries form the FIA's general assembly. Each country holds one vote.
SLEC owns the broadcasting rights to Formula One until 2010 and German media reports suggested Kirch might want to use the the rights to prop up its ailing pay-TV channel, the only one in Germany, which is Europe's largest television market.