Media giant News Corp. and Italian investment firm Exor said Tuesday they were working together to search for other investors to potentially fund a bid for the motor racing series, which has been owned by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners since 2006.
News Corp. and Exor said in a joint statement they are discussing the “possibility of creating a consortium with a view to formulating a long-term plan for the development of Formula One in the interests of the participants and the fans.”
Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family, has a controlling 30 percent stake in global automaker Fiat Group, which is the majority owner of sports car manufacturer and F1 team Ferrari. Exor also holds a 60 percent stake in Serie A side Juventus.
“Over the coming weeks and months, Exor and News Corporation will approach potential minority partners and key stakeholders in the sport,” the two companies said in their statement. “There can be no certainty that this will lead to an approach to Formula One’s current owners.”
CVC confirmed it has received an approach from the consortium.
“(News Corp. chief executive) James Murdoch has informed us that the approach is friendly, at a very preliminary stage, and that they acknowledge that Formula One is privately owned by CVC and not currently for sale,” CVC said in a statement.
“CVC recognizes the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors, but any investment in Formula One will require CVC’s agreement and will need to demonstrate that it is in the interest of the sport and its stakeholders, taken as a whole.”
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who has valued F1 at around $6 billion, maintains that the racing series would not be sold to a media company because it would restrict the sport’s ability to negotiate television contracts with other broadcasters.
“CVC don’t want to sell, so it’s going to be a bit difficult _ I can see CVC in for the long haul, absolutely, 100 percent,” Ecclestone said Tuesday. “If somebody came along and offered them a lot more money than it’s worth, they would obviously say ‘Sit down, let’s have a chat.’
“But I get the distinct feeling that’s not going to happen. I can’t understand why a company as big as News Corp. need to keep looking for partners. First it was (Mexican telecom magnate) Carlos Slim, and now we’ve a new one (Exor).”
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