• F1 Ownership

Ecclestone dismisses F1 takeover talk as 'rubbish'

ESPNF1 Staff
April 20, 2011 « 2013 engine regs vital for F1 - Parr | »
Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed takeover talk © Sutton Images

News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's global media company, is reported to be in discussions with partners over the possibility of a takeover bid for Formula One.

However, Bernie Ecclestone dismissed the idea as "rubbish" while News Corp refused to comment on what was described as "speculation".

Sky News, which is partly owned by News Corp, reported that the company had spoken to the world's richest man - Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim - as well as holding talks with at least one Formula One team with the view of potentially putting a consortium together to attempt to acquire the sport from current owners CVC.

"It is all rubbish," Ecclestone countered. "Formula One is not for sale. And, anyway, we would not sell to a media company because it would restrict the ability to negotiate with other broadcasters."

However, Ecclestone did sell to a media group when the sport was bought by the Kirch Group in Germany. In 2006 it was in turn purchased by CVC for over $3 billion with the acquisition part financed by the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lehman Brothers. It is thought the debt will be cleared by 2014.

In a blog on the Sky News website, City editor Mark Kleinman said that while the interest was in the very early stages a bid being tabled was by no means a formality, and could instead turn in to an attempt to secure future broadcasting rights.

"I should say for the sake of clarity that there is a good chance that News Corp's deliberations and talks with outside partners will not ultimately lead to a bid given the complexity of a deal and other competing claims on the media company's finances (likely to include a renewed bid for the rest of BSkyB that it doesn't currently own). In the context of other situations that it is looking at, News Corp's interest in F1 could quickly fade.

"It's also worth saying that F1's current owner, the private equity group CVC Capital Partners, is understood to be unaware of News Corp's potential interest and that there has so far been no contact between them. I'm also told that 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."