FIA denies conflict of interest during sale of F1

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The FIA has issued a statement to address accusations that it acted improperly during the recent sale of Formula One's commercial rights to Liberty Media.

A series of media stories in recent months accused the FIA of a conflict of interest when it approved the sale because it also meant the governing body had to commit to selling its own one per cent shareholding in F1's commercial rights. The FIA's stake was subject to a 'drag along' clause when the previous controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners, decided to sell, meaning the governing body ultimately profited from the sale that it oversaw as F1's regulator.

The issue has been raised at the European parliament by UK MEP Anneliese Dodds alongside allegations that the sport's distribution of revenues among its teams is anti-competitive. On Monday the parliament voted in favour of an investigation into the sport, adding pressure -- but no obligation -- for the European competitions commission to do so.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the FIA distanced itself from the issues surrounding the distribution of F1's revenues among teams and defended the sale of its one per cent share.

"Following the unanimous approval by the World Motor Sport Council of the change of control of Delta Topco Limited (the holding company of the Commercial Rights Holder of the FIA Formula One World Championship) from CVC Capital Partners in favour of Liberty Media Corporation on 18 January 2017, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has been made aware of certain declarations and comments, clearly inaccurately informed or made maliciously, relating to this process.

"In light of this, the FIA wishes to make clear the following once again:

  • Firstly, the prize money allocated in the Formula One World Championship is done so in accordance with the bilateral agreements that exist between each team and the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH). The FIA has no knowledge of these agreements

  • Secondly, there is no conflict of interest on the part of the FIA with regard to its approval of the change of control of the CRH which has been approved by the World Motor Sport Council taking into consideration exclusively the terms of the existing agreements between the CRH and the FIA and the best interests of the Championship

  • As per the Agreements made in 2001 for 100 Years, the FIA could only have withheld its consent in the event that the change of control would materially alter the ability of the CRH to fulfil its obligations; it is obvious that the taking of control of the Formula One Group by Liberty does not create such a risk, and nobody has ever suggested a different view in this respect

"The FIA would naturally be happy to demonstrate the absence of any conflict of interest to any competent authority that may so request.

"Once again, the FIA looks forward to its collaboration with both Liberty and the Formula One Group to create a constructive relationship that will ensure the continued success and the development of the FIA Formula One World Championship in the long term."