SBD/April 20, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Ecclestone Says No Plans To Sell F1 Despite News Corp.'s Reported Interest

Bernie Ecclestone says he hasn't heard from News Corp. Chair & CEO Rupert Murdoch
F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone said that “there are no plans to sell the car racing competition to media company News Corp. or Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim,” according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. A source yesterday said that News Corp. “may make a bid with partners” for F1. But Ecclestone said majority owner CVC Capital Partners is “not in the slightest bit interested in selling.” Ecclestone: “A lot of people approach them but they are there for the long term.” Ecclestone said of Slim and News Corp. Chair & CEO Rupert Murdoch, “If they were interested for sure they would have called me and they haven’t.” Ecclestone said that “though CVC is committed to owning the series, he couldn’t rule out a sale if an ‘enormous’ bid was tabled.” He said, “If someone was to come along with an enormous offer, a lot more than it were worth, then they have to look at it. They have never talked about selling, though” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/20). In London, Kevin Eason reports News Corp. is “formulating plans to buy” F1. News Corp. last night was reportedly “negotiating with Carlos Slim ... and a leading international carmaker to make a bid.” Speculation is “mounting that Ferrari is the carmaker.” Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo is “known to be disenchanted with Formula One’s financial structure and only last week threatened that his company may walk away from the sport unless it is changed.” The bid would be a "powerful alliance" and one that CVC Capital Partners “might find difficult to resist” (LONDON TIMES, 4/20). SKY NEWS’ Mark Kleinman noted JP Morgan is “advising News Corp. on the situation, which is at an embryonic stage.” News Corp. “could decide not to acquire a direct stake in F1’s owner but instead attempt in future to buy the rights to broadcast the sport across its TV platforms.” News Corp. Deputy COO and Int'l Chair & CEO James Murdoch “has had a long-standing interest in F1, and is involved in the company’s discussions with prospective partners” (SKY.com, 4/19).
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