Honda: No valid offers for team
TOKYO -- Japanese automaker Honda says it has no serious buyers for its Formula One racing team.
"Various people are making offers but none of them are serious," Honda chief executive Takeo Fukui said at a news conference Monday, when he also announced he was stepping down and being replaced by research expert Takanobu Ito.
Honda has been trying to find a buyer for its team after it announced in December it was quitting F1 to focus on its core business of making and selling cars. Like other Japanese automakers, Honda has been battered by the plunge in global auto demand after the U.S. financial crisis struck last year.
The Honda team, with an operational budget of around $294 million, finished next-to-last in ninth place in the F1 constructors' standings last season. Honda, which originally entered F1 as a constructor for a stint in the 1960s before returning as an engine supplier in the 1980s, bought out BAR Racing in 2005.
The company reportedly spurned a buyout offer from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone that would have allowed the team to race this season, according to Sunday's edition of British newspaper The News of the World.
British businessman Richard Branson said over the weekend that his company Virgin may be ready to take over the team, but only if the sport is ready to make major changes.
Fukui said negotiations were difficult, although a deal "was not totally impossible."
Incoming president Ito was hopeful Honda may some day recover enough to again tackle F1, although he did not elaborate.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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