Formula One IPO delayed amid market volatility

Formula One hopes to push ahead with its $2.5 billion listing Singapore later this year, according to a source close to the deal, as global financial markets are buffetted by economic uncertainty.

Dow Jones Newswires reported in May that the group was looking to launch its initial public offering (IPO) in mid-June, but the source told AFP that the earliest it would likely list would be from the second half of the year.

"Third, fourth quarter is what we're looking at," the source said, stressing however that they could not give a definite date because the listing "depends on the market conditions."

The IPO has been rumoured for months, but there has been no official announcement on a date owing to market uncertainty.

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone indicated in May the planned flotation may hit some speed bumps as global financial markets are hit by the escalating eurozone debt crisis.

The disastrous debut of Facebook's $16 billion IPO in May -- the firm's shares have tumbled from its listing price of $38 -- was also cause for concern, Ecclestone said.

"The market doesn't look too bright after that little bit of a problem with Facebook," he said. "So, I think they are going to wait and see."

The Singapore Exchange has already given the green light for F1's listing, a source told AFP in May.

Singapore hosts a popular Formula One night race, one of 20 stops on the F1 tour this year, and has a strong fanbase for the sport. This year's Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled for September 23.

Analysts said F1 was in the same situation as other firms wanting to tap the capital markets in a time of turbulence.

"It's not the first IPO that has been shelved in the region... There's been a couple in Hong Kong that have sort of had the brakes put on them," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.

"The investment market environment at the moment is rather choppy and outlook seems a little bit uncertain," he told AFP.

"And I think with the headlines that were made from the Facebook IPO... we're looking at a very challenging environment on the whole for anyone listing."

An F1 initial shares offer, which could raise as much as $3 billion, would likely translate into a profit for CVC Capital Partners, which owns 63.4 percent of F1's business after it bought a majority stake in the racing company for $2.5 billion in 2006.

Ecclestone, who is believed to own 5.3 percent of the business, could gain financially if the stocks rise, but one analyst said the IPO would dilute some of his power.