Business of Sport
Ecclestone leaves door open
London - Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he would be interested in regaining ownership of Formula One, the world’s leading motorsport championship.
Ecclestone sold F1 to private equity firm CVC Partners for US$1.7 billion in 2005, and the 80-year-old remains the series’ commercial rights-holder, negotiating contracts with circuits and broadcasters. There has been takeover speculation linking Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Italian investment firm Exor with a possible acquisition of F1 so far this year.
However, when asked whether he would be interested in buying back F1, Ecclestone told the International Herald Tribune: “Yes, absolutely.” He added: “I wouldn't buy at the price that I think CVC would sell it. But I would certainly buy at the price they (News Corporation and Exor) want to pay.” Ecclestone said that even if he does not end up purchasing F1, he is keen to ensure the championship is acquired by the right owner. “I care that people that own the company want to own it and run it in the correct manner,” he said.
“(There is) a little bit of a problem with Murdoch because they (News Corp) are more or less on pay-TV...and we have to be, according to the European Union, on free-to-air television. Our agreement with them was that we are everywhere on free-to-air television,” he added. “The other people (Exor) own Fiat, and the teams don't seem that excited about another team having big control over the regulations, or whatever. So there is a bit of a conflict there.”
Ecclestone also denied speculation that talks over a new Concorde Agreement – the commercial deal between the teams, rights-holders and the International Motorsport Federation – could be affected by takeover speculation. The latest Concorde Agreement is due to come into force in 2013, but Ecclestone said: “It certainly won't make any difference. The bottom line is simple. If there is no Concorde Agreement it doesn't make that much difference.”