Owners say Formula One not for sale

London: Formula One`s owners said the sport was not "currently for sale" on Wednesday after Rupert Murdoch`s News Corp. and Italy`s Exor confirmed they were considering a joint bid.

Private equity company CVC confirmed in a statement it had received an enquiry from News Corp and Exor, and that the companies had acknowledged Formula One was privately owned and not on the market.

"CVC can confirm that it has recently received an approach from the Exor News Corporation consortium," the statement read.

"(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 1 is privately owned by CVC and not currently for sale.”

"CVC recognises the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors, but any investment in Formula 1 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."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who serves CVC as chief executive of the sport, said late Tuesday CVC had no interest in selling Formula One, stressing they were committed to the sport for the "long haul."

"Personally, I know 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.

Ecclestone had dismissed previous reports of Murdoch`s interest in Formula One as "rubbish" and said any offer would need to be "ridiculous."

However Ecclestone hinted that any offer above the £1.6 billion CVC paid for Formula One in 2006 would need to be considered.

"If somebody came along and offered them (CVC) a lot more money than it`s worth, they would obviously say `Sit down, let`s have a chat`," Ecclestone said.

"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 billionaire) Carlos Slim, and now we`ve a new one."

In their statement on Tuesday, News Corp. and Exor, which owns 30 percent of Italian car maker Fiat, the parent company of Ferrari, said they were "in the early stages of exploring the possibility of creating a consortium with a view to formulating a long-term plan for the development of Formula One."

"Over the coming weeks and months, Exor and News Corporation will approach potential minority partners and key stakeholders in the sport," they said.

"There can be no certainty that this will lead to an approach to Formula One`s current owners," they cautioned.

News Corp.`s vast holdings include newspapers in Australia, Britain and the United States, the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Fox television networks, the social network Myspace and book publisher HarperCollins.

News Corp. is also poised to win control of BSkyB with a £7.5 billion (USD 12.2 billion) bid for the shares in the British broadcaster it does not already own.

Bureau Report


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