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F1 owners don't want to sell, says Ecclestone

Formula One chief is not for turning but News Corp explores takeover with Ferrari backer.

Bernie Ecclestone: owners aren't going anywhere.
Bernie Ecclestone: owners aren't going anywhere.
Image: AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File

FORMULAS ONE’S OWNER have been approached by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp about a potential joint takeover bid with the investors behind Ferrari, the sport’s oldest team.

But F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has again reiterated that the owners are in no mood to sell.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which has owned the rights to F1 since 2006, said  it has received a “friendly” approach from News Corp.

Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family, has a controlling 30% stake in global automaker Fiat Group — the majority owner of sports car manufacturer Ferrari, which has competed in every F1 championship since it was launched in 1950.

Is that clear?

CVC maintains that it is not actively trying to sell F1, but a statement opens the door to future takeover talks.

“(News Corp chairman and 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.

“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.”

However, Ecclestone believes the questions must be asked of CVC, for whom the 80-year-old serves as their chief executive.

“You would think if somebody wanted to buy it they would approach the people who own it to see if they want to sell it,” Ecclestone said.

“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%.”

- additional reporting AP

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