London: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is in the early stages of talks about forming a consortium to acquire control of Formula One motor racing, according to a person familiar with the matter.
News Corp has been in preliminary talks in recent weeks with people connected to at least one of F1's big car manufacturers, and with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, according to the person, who asked not to be identified as the talks are confidential.
The news was first reported by Sky News in the UK, which is owned by News Corp. JPMorgan is advising News Corp on the situation, according to Sky.
So far, News Corp had had no contact with F1's current owner, private equity firm CVC, regarding a bid, according to another person familiar with the matter.
A News Corp spokeswoman declined comment on the report.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was not immediately available to comment.
CVC bought F1 holding company SLEC in 2006 with Ecclestone remaining hands-on in running the business.
News Corp is unlikely to commit to acquiring the commercial rights to F1 on its own according to the first person. Mexican billionaire Slim already has a relationship with the sport via the Telmex-backed Sauber team through his eldest son Carlos Slim Domit. Telmex is the Slim-owned leading fixed-line provider in Mexico.
A spokesman for Slim's group of companies declined to comment.
Participating in a consortium to try to buy F1 is only one of several options that News Corp is looking at in relation to the sport, which may come up for sale during the next 18 months.
There was a good chance News Corp's talks with outside partners would not ultimately lead to a bid, given the complexity of a deal, said the first person familiar with the the matter.
News Corp could decide not to acquire a direct stake in F1's owner but instead attempt in the future to buy the rights to broadcast the sport across its television platforms.
News Corp owns 39 percent of satellite broadcaster BSkyB, the owner of Sky News.
Last month, News Corp took a huge step towards securing a buyout of BSkyB (BSY.L) when Britain accepted its proposals to ease competition concerns.
First Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 23:38