Motor racing-F1 globetrotting drives revenue rise-report

LONDON, March 16 Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:09pm GMT

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LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - New races in the United States and Russia will help boost income from Formula One's commercial rights by almost 50 percent to $2.9 billion by 2015, according to a report published on Friday.

Revenue for the current 20-race season, which begins at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, will reach $2 billion for the first time, said industry monitor Formula Money.

Private equity firm CVC owns Formula One's commercial rights, which are managed by Briton Bernie Ecclestone, 81, who has led the sport's commercial development over the past four decades.

There has been speculation that CVC plan to sell out of the sport.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Italian financial holding Exor said last year they were joining forces to explore options on how to run Formula One but that interest has gone cold for the moment.

Fees paid by race hosts are expected to pull ahead of television as the main source of revenue this season, Formula Money believes, despite pay TV operator BSkyB taking a share of the rights in Britain for the first time.

For 2012, the report's authors pencilled in race hosting fees of some $700 million, TV income of around $600 million and sponsorship and trackside revenues of $400 million. Corporate hospitality will contribute an additional $200 million, with the remaining $100 million coming from areas like merchandising.

The report draws on data from various sources in a sport where official figures are hard to obtain and sponsorship deals are not disclosed.

CVC declined to comment on the report.

GLOBAL EXPANSION

Formula One returns to the United States for the first time since 2007 when Austin, Texas, hosts a race in November. New Jersey will stage a second American Grand Prix from 2013.

Russia is due to join the calendar in 2014 after India hosted its inaugural race last season. Ecclestone has shifted the sport from its European roots to embrace faster growing markets.

The Formula One teams are negotiating to extend the Concorde Agreement - their confidential commercial deal with the rights holder which expires at the end of this year.

The teams are thought to get 50 percent of the underlying profit of F1's rights holder in prize money.

Prize money and additional fees received by teams are set to double to $1.2 billion by 2014 from a total of $658 million in 2010, Formula Money said.

Italy's Ferrari, owned by Fiat and the most famous name in the sport, is paid an annual lump sum for participating, while new teams initially get smaller payments to ease their introduction to Formula One.

Formula Money's figures show that by 2015 the total team share of revenues will come to $1.4 billion, with the championship winner taking home $185 million. Red Bull Racing received $102 million for winning the championship last year.

Formula Money's publishing partners, Munich-based CNBC communications, have worked with teams, sponsors and car makers. (Editing by David Cowell)

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