Ecclestone denies F1 takeover reports
20 April, 2011
Apr.20 (GMM) Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has played down widespread reports that media magnate Rupert Murdoch as well as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the Sauber backer and richest man in the world, could be preparing a bid to take over the sport.
The initial report was carried exclusively by Sky News, part of Murdoch’s far reaching News Corporation empire, but F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told the Telegraph it is “rubbish”.
Sky said the talks, also including a car manufacturer involved in Formula 1, are “in the early stages” and might in fact involve News Corporation bidding for television broadcast rights.
The latter detail could be significant for Formula 1 fans, given Murdoch’s notorious attitude about the pricing of media content.
“The company is kicking the tyres, as you would expect, given that there may be a serious business opportunity to examine in relation to F1,” said a source.
Another added, “It is at a very, very early point and could lead to nothing or could lead to many different permutations.”
And yet another source told the Guardian: “They (News Corp) are thinking about F1 and options they could take but that is all it is at this stage.”
F1′s current owner CVC declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mexican Slim’s group of companies, while a spokesman for News Corporation said: “(We do) not comment on speculation.”
Ecclestone told the UK Express newspaper, “The sport is not for sale. I suppose anything you or I own is available to buy. But the offer would not have to be right — it would have to be ridiculous.”
A source said, “Unless any bidder – be it News Corp, its partners or a rival – is welcomed by Bernie, nothing is happening.”