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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 19:28 GMT
F1 dispute settled out-of-court
Fernando Alonso in action at the Malaysian Grand Prix
The case has been closely watched by Formula One teams
A legal dispute between Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and three banks over the sport's commercial rights has been settled out-of-court.

The two sides agreed the settlement on Wednesday, reports said, although no details were immediately available.

The banks were seeking more influence over the companies which operates F1, controlled by Mr Ecclestone.

The dispute has been closely watched since F1's existing commercial agreement expires at the end of 2007.

Agreement reached

The High Court case was due to begin in May.

Three banks - Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers - were seeking a greater say over the running of F1 operating companies such as Formula One Administration.

The banks own a majority stake in ultimate holding company SLEC, which they inherited after the collapse of major shareholder German media group Kirch.

Reuters reported that lawyers for both sides told Justice Peter Smith earlier on Wednesday that the two parties were close to agreement.

"I think this will concentrate minds and allow a settlement to be reached," Reuters reported one lawyer as saying.

'Invalid appointments'

In December, a judge ruled against Mr Ecclestone in a dispute over the make-up of Formula One Holdings, a subsidiary of SLEC which runs the Grand Prix circuit.

The three banks - collectively known as Speed Investments - had challenged the 2002 appointment of two directors to its board by Mr Ecclestone's Bambino Holdings, which owns 25% of FOH.

Mr Justice Andrew Park ruled that Mr Ecclestone had "no defence" to their claim that the appointments were "invalid".

The ruling effectively meant that Bambino Holdings no longer had a majority on the board.

The banks said they would seek collaboration with Mr Ecclestone but have still sought to challenge other aspects of his control of F1.

The commercial balance of power in F1 is currently in dispute.

Several F1 teams have threatened to launch a rival series from 2008 if they do not receive a larger share of the sport's commercial income.

Judge slams Ecclestone's F1 power
06 Dec 04 |  Business

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