It’s official. European investment group Exor, owned by Italy’s Agnelli family and headed by Agnelli scion John Elkann, the current chairman of Fiat, has confirmed that it and media giant News Corporation are investigating the possibility of a takeover bid for the commercial rights of Formula 1.

There have been rumors of an F1 buyout by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, together with a second, unnamed investor that was initially thought to be Ferrari, for some time now.

We now know that the second investor is Exor, which together with News Corp, now plans to form a consortium with a view to formulating a long-term plan for the development of F1.

Over the coming weeks and months, Exor and News Corp will approach potential minority partners and key stakeholders in the sport. Importantly, Exor and News Corp admit that the move that will lead to an approach to F1’s current owners, CVC Capital and Bernie Ecclestone (pictured below).

Ecclestone asks Mosley to quit

Ecclestone asks Mosley to quit

Estimates for the commercial rights of F1 are in excess of $11 billion, and a decision on any potential sale is expected within the next 12 months. 

Interestingly, the other investors keen to get a stake in the entity are race trams including Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes GP and Red Bull Racing. 

What’s of more interest, however, is the notion that Exor, which is controlled by the Agnelli family, who also owns a majority stake in Fiat, which in turn owns Ferrari, having the rights to F1 and the conflict of interest that arises with Ferrari competing in the sport. After all, we’ve already got former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt presiding over the FIA.

Stay tuned for an update.