News Corp Discussing Joint Takeover of Formula One

April 20, 2011

According to reports revealed by Sky News, which is 39 per cent owned by News Corp, the company, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is in the early stages of talks to acquire control of Formula One motor racing.

It has been suggested that Murdoch is in discussions with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and a major car manufacturer about forming a consortium to take over F1 and any deal would be the first time that the media giants have taken over a whole sport and any bid is likely to face huge regulatory hurdles.

However, the company has not yet approached CVC, the private equity firm which has a majority shareholding, and Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed the reports, telling the Daily Telegraph: “It’s rubbish. The sport is not for sale”. He effectively is able to veto any bid.

Sky has never had the rights to the sport, currently held by the BBC currently until the end of 2014 on a £40m-a-year deal (US$65.5m).

Car manufacturers could oppose a Rupert Murdoch-driven takeover of F1 because current deals maximise their media exposure and a News Corp spokesman declined to comment on the report.

It is believed any bid is unlikely to be made before the end of the Concorde Agreement which states the terms the teams compete on next year.

A source told The Guardian: “News Corp going into this transaction now is premature. They are thinking about F1 and options they could take but that is all it is at this stage.

‘They will do nothing until after the next Concorde meeting, there is no way to possibly value or plan until after that.”

CVC bought F1 holding company SLEC in 2006 with Ecclestone remaining hands-on control of the business although a number of smaller companies also have shareholdings in the sport.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim – the world’s richest man – already has a relationship with the sport via the Telmex-backed Sauber team through his eldest son Carlos Slim Domit and a spokesman for Slim’s group of companies also declined to comment.