Hours before the deadline expired, EM.TV & Merchandising exercised its call option to purchase a further 25% stake in the Formula One holding company SLEC via its subsidiary Speed Investment Ltd. to bring its overall shareholding to 75%.

Funding of $987.5m for the 25% was arranged by EM.TV with the backing of the KirchGroup as part of the EM.TV rescue package agreed by the two companies on February 15. State-owned bank, Bayerische Landesbank was revealed as the surprise backer of the resdcue bid.

Opposition to the prospect of EM.TV and Kirch having a controlling interest in SLEC had been forthcoming from the Formula One teams who threatened to leave the competition and set up their own event (Screendaily, 28 Feb).

Responding to concerns over the future of the rights to one of the world's most profitable sports, KirchGroup asserted it had no agenda to steer Formula One broadcasting towards pay-TV in Germany.