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F1 bodies sign commercial agreement

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One's governing body signed a bilateral agreement with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Friday that it said would give it more money and the sport a solid foundation through to 2020.

"The agreement reached by the FIA and the Formula One Group in July 2013, setting out the framework for implementation of the Concorde Agreement for the period 2013-2020, has now come into force," the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement.

"Now that the agreement is operative, the parties will move towards the conclusion of a multi-party Concorde agreement," added the body, whose world motor sport council is meeting in Croatia.

The confidential Concorde Agreement, which expired at the end of last year, sets out the commercial side of the highly lucrative sport, including the distribution of revenues.

It must still be agreed by the rights holder, governing body and teams - 11 at present. Only once the document has been signed by all parties will it come into force and that could still be some way off.

Ecclestone has bilateral deals with all the teams except tail-enders Marussia.

"The next step is to get the FIA, FOM (Formula One Management) and 11 teams around a table," one senior team official told Reuters.

"At the moment we have 10 bilateral agreements with the teams and some kind of MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the FIA and the commercial rights holder."

HISTORIC ROLE

The FIA said the new agreement provided it with "significantly improved financial means" and would lay down solid foundations for the Formula One championship.

FIA president Jean Todt said the world body looked forward "to continuing to fulfil its historic role as the guarantor of both regulation and safety in F1 for many years to come."

Ecclestone added: "I am very pleased that the agreement between the FIA and the Formula One Group has been concluded."

The Briton, who will be 83 next month, runs Formula One for rights holders CVC and has talked of a possible listing in Singapore and the lack of a Concorde Agreement has hung over those plans.

He said in Hungary in July, when he and the FIA signed a preliminary document, that the bilateral agreement with the governing body also formed most of the Concorde Agreement for the teams as well.

Private equity firm CVC controls the commercial rights to Formula One for the next 97 years under a deal agreed between Ecclestone and Todt's predecessor Max Mosley.

CVC owns 35.5 percent of Formula One with U.S. investment groups BlackRock and Waddell&Reed, as well as Norway's Norges Bank Investment, also buying into the business.

The agreement with the commercial rights holder gives Todt a tangible achievement to point to as he stands for another four- year term at the helm of the FIA. He faces a strong challenge from former FIA Foundation head David Ward.

"The final conclusion of the negotiations over the Concorde Agreement is a very positive development for the FIA," Ward said in a statement.

"This is a solid achievement by Jean Todt and I congratulate him for it.

"The question now is what will the new resources from Concorde be used for? The answer should be for investment in ‘grass roots' development of motor sport."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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