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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Will Bernie Ecclestone Destroy the US Economy

Just in case you didn't know yet, a group called Bluewaters Communications Group LLC, are attempting to sue Bernie Ecclestone over the Gribkowsky Bribe affair, say that they had a preferential bid on the table to take legal control of F1 from the banking group which took over in 2004.

That banking group contained the likes of Lehman, J.P.Morgan and Bayern LB Banks, all of whom wanted out of F1 in a big way apparently from the minute they got their hands on it.

They claim that Lehman Brothers and J.P Morgan approached their representative and asked if they would buy the Banks shares in the sport; those shares represented a controlling interest in F1.

Bluewater raised the capital they needed to make the bid and began negotiations with Gribkowsky, who represented Bayern LB, the only non-US bank involved and the largest shareholder in the Bank Group.

The basic claim is that Bayern LB paid Bernie a $65 million finder's fee, which he then paid $44 million of to Gribkowsky, who steered the sale of the Bayern shares to CVC Capital Partners Ltd.

Bluestone are miffed because they claim their bid offered sale price + 10% over any other offer on the table and reckon that the only reason CVC got the sale was because they promised to keep Bernie on as Chief Bottlewasher.

Bluestone had a stated offer of around $1 Billion on the table.

All this is quite interesting and also pretty boring for F1 fans, really because it's not part of the sport, just a corporate wrangling for control.

The thing that interests me about it comes from the fight over whether the case can be heard in the US courts.

One of the mainstays of the Bluewater case is that the fact that the bribe bank transfers were undertaken in US currency enable the US courts to hear the case, even though the transfers took place between banks in Switzerland and Austria, outside of the US.

This is very interesting, and you'll pardon me for now referring to Lee Child's, Jack Reacher novels to illustrate my point.

In the first Reacher novel "The Killing Floor" the plot revolves around a US Dollar counterfeiting ring and a lot of discussion takes place, obviously enough, about the US currency.  The point is made that, in the US banks, there is only about $350 Dollars per head of population, with the vast majority of the currency circulating outside the country and being used for business transfers, etc. This keeps the currency at a primary position in the currency markets with a lot of investors buying and selling Dollars, increasing confidence in the Currency and in the Country.

In other words, it's good for the US economy to encourage the use of Dollars in foreign transactions.

Should the New York Courts decide that US Currency transactions taking place abroad come under the jurisdiction of US Courts...well, the question I'm wondering is whether international business would continue to use the Dollar in non-US dealings?

Bernie Ecclestone: Could a $44 million law suit bring down the US Economy?