Is Formula One for sale?

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Bernie Ecclestone

Is the FIA's racing centerpiece, Formula One for sale?

According to the UK news service Sky News, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp—together with the world's richest man, Mexican Carlos Slim—is investigating such a viability.  

Current F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone calls the reports "rubbish" even as commercial rights holder CVC Capital Partners, who purchased Ecclestone's SLEC in 2006, stands under investigation for bribing a German official.  Ecclestone has said there are always entities speaking with CVC about F1, but that the company "is not looking for any exit over the next two or three years."  This despite the track record of such holding companies turning property over three to seven years in the past.  

Although the commercial rights were owned by Ecclestone's holding company for a long time and the diminutive UK-based businessman is responsible for the massive growth of the sport since the mid-1970s, the current regime under CVC is not nearly so healthy as it could be.  Without a governing agreement, known as a Concorde after this season, Formula One could be available for purchase.  It would likely take a good 18 months to two years of due diligence for the sale to go through.  That would be such an agreement right at the stage where Ecclestone himself said such a swap could be viable.

Murdoch could also be looking for the worldwide broadcast rights to Formula One, rather than taking over the commercial rights of this entity from the private equity group. Slim's ownership interest should not come as a surprise; he sponsors Peter Sauber's Switzerland-based team and its rookie Mexican driver, Sergio Perez.

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