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Motor racing-F1 banks pushing for dialogue with carmakers

Formula One's controlling banks remain hopeful that a deal can be done to end the threat of a rival championship being planned by major carmakers.

”We see it as a crucial issue for all constituents of Formula One to end the discussions on two series,” Bayerische Landesbank’s Gerhard Gribkowsky told the official Formula One website today.

Gribkowsky, whose bank recently took over the voting rights of Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers on the SLEC holding company, said all parties needed to ensure a stable platform for the future of the sport.

”We believe that the outstanding issues can be solved in dialogue between the parties,” he said.

”Mr Ecclestone and the shareholders are committed to continuing this dialogue and to finding solutions.” SLEC controls Formula One’s commercial rights with the three banks, through Speed Investments, owning 75 per cent. Ecclestone’s Bambino family trust holding the remainder.

Five carmakers — BMW, DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes, Renault, Toyota and Honda — have said they will launch their own series from the beginning of 2008 unless major changes are made to the way Formula One is run.

The Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (GPMA) want greater transparency, strong corporate governance, a far greater share of the revenues and a level playing field for all teams.

Gribkowsky said the banks, who inherited their stakes after lending 1.6 billion dollars to Germany’s failed Kirch media empire, supported Ecclestone as Formula One’s effective chief executive.

”We have agreed a framework with Mr Ecclestone in which we as shareholders coordinate and agree key issues and decisions with him,” he said.

Asked about a possible divestment of the bank’s holding, Gribkowsky replied: ”A divestiture of the bank’s holding is currently not a relevant issue.

”All shareholders need to act concertedly to support the future development of the sport and that is exactly what we are doing,” he said.

Max Mosley, the president of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) sounded optimistic after meeting GPMA representatives last week.

”We…got a lot closer to see a way forwards so it looks like it will all come together in due course,” he told the Autosport website.

”I think there is a real willingness on everyone’s part now to start agreeing what is happening and give certainty. It is very negative with sponsors and contracts to do with F1 and I think everyone is bored with it, including the teams.”

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