News of the World reports that Bernie Ecclestone offered to help a management buyout of Honda for Â£100 million. Apparently this would have left Nick Fry and Ross Brawn with 17.6% ownership each while Bernie would have close to 70%. Now on the surface you have to wonder what in the world was Nick Fry thinking? If someone offered Â£100 million for the team, Honda surely would have been fine with that but was it pride from Nick and Ross about having 17% ownership in a management buyout when they most likely wanted more? Is this an example of how Nick Fry has conflicting interest in selling and also wanting to buy the team? Just what the heck is going on here?
There is another side as well; we don’t know the details of what Bernie offered. 17.6% is all well and good but what were the salaries going to be? Was there more convertible warrants involved? Were they asked to assume a larger portion of debt than 17.6% or not willing to take the risk of even their portion of the debt? Were there guaranteed payments that they were not comfortable with? Was there another deal in the works that will be much better for the entire team?
No, on surface this makes you say “what are you thinking Nick” but deep down there are so many complexities to a management buyout that we have to reserve judgment until more details are learned. Bernie has a way of making statements like this to put pressure on people who reject him. Bernie know BBF1 is in serious need and putting heat on them via the media is just another tool of negotiation for Bernie. It would be interesting to know the detail and as this story and comments from Bernie make Nick look greedy, foolish or both…perhaps he will defend his position in the media as well. We’ll see. Don’t get me wrong but if saving the jobs of all of those team members is a priority; perhaps Nick could have explored the Ecclestone offer and negotiated out the sour bits. Â£100 million is a Â£100 million after all.
“I tried to help with the management buy-out,” the Formula One supremo told the newspaper.
“They should have taken what I offered. It was a very good offer for everybody concerned. It gave them complete protection but they wanted to do things on their own. Now all we can do is hope and pray.”
“I don’t think anybody knows what is going to happen with Honda,” he said.
“It is up to them to make up their bloody minds. But the team can go one of three ways. They either go with the management buy-out, sell to Richard Branson or they could simply just close down the whole thing.”
“The silly thing is we have got Bruno wanting to drive,” he said. “It would be fantastic for everybody to have the name Senna back in F1.”
“If we lost a McLaren or Ferrari or somebody like BMW, people would wonder what’s going on,” Ecclestone said. “But I don’t think that will be the case with Honda. They didn’t do too much last year, did they?”