Tuesday January 8th, 2002
Peter Sauber has bought Red Bull's majority stake in his Formula One team and will sell it on to existing sponsor Credit Suisse.
"I have bought back the shares of Sauber Holding AG from Red Bull GMBH," Sauber was quoted as saying by a team spokeswoman on Tuesday. "Credit Suisse will take over these shares in order to place them with different investors."
Sauber and Red Bull, the Austrian energy drink maker, announced in October they were ending their seven-year partnership at the end of 2001.
"It's my objective to secure by this transaction the financial basis of Sauber Holding and thus the key factor of success for the Sauber team on a long-term basis," Peter Sauber said.
The Swiss Tages-Anzeiger newspaper suggested on Tuesday that Credit Suisse was unlikely to hold on to the 64 percent stake for long and could sell the shares on to a carmaker. It valued the stake at 70 million Swiss francs ($42.40 million). There was no immediate comment from the bank.
Peter Sauber said negotiations with Red Bull boss Dieter Mateschitz, who was the team's title sponsor and has now linked up with rivals Arrows, were continuing and Red Bull could yet remain as a sponsor of the Swiss-based team.
Despite Mateschitz's sizeable investment, Peter Sauber controlled the decision-making at the team and the Austrian drinks magnate said last year that he hoped to sell up for an estimated $33.3 million.
Ferrari-powered Sauber, also sponsored by Malaysian oil giant Petronas, had their most successful season to date last year and finished fourth overall with Germany's Nick Heidfeld and Finn Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel.
Raikkonen's appointment after just 24 single-seater races was a bone of contention between Sauber and Mateschitz, who wanted 2000 test driver and Red Bull protege Enrique Bernoldi to get the job.
Raikkonen proved an immediate hit and has since left for McLaren, in a deal widely reported to have brought Sauber well in excess of $10 million. He has been replaced by promising Brazilian Felipe Massa, who started testing with the team in Barcelona on Tuesday.
Last season Mateschitz sponsored both Sauber and Arrows - who signed Bernoldi as their race driver and are using Jaguar engines in 2002. Mateschitz had spoken of how he wanted to take over Arrows and turn it into an American team with American drivers.
He has since become a major sponsor of Team Cheever in the Indy Racing League (IRL), who also use Nissan engines developed by Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw's TWR operation.
"Tom Walkinshaw and I share the same vision of wanting to develop a U.S. motorsport strategy alongside our Formula One interests," Mateschitz said in October.
Published at 10:49:48 GMT
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