Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire is believed to have held early-stage talks in the last few weeks with Mexican telco billionaire Carlos Slim and at least one of Formula 1’s major manufacturers about joining forces for a prospective takeover of the sport.
The possibility of a bid is in very early stages and it is believed that it has not yet made a formal approach to equity firm CVC Capital Partners, who currently hold a controlling stake in the commercial rights of Formula 1.
The recent bribery allegations scandal that has emerged as part of an investigation tied to CVC’s takeover of F1, where broker Gerhard Gribkowsky has been jailed over allegations he took a bribe – believed to be connected with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – as part of the sale.
There are further rumours that CVC is possibly looking to sell its stake in the next 18 months, and that a News Corp-led consortium would be one of several options it is examining in relation to the sport.
News Corp has declined to “comment on market speculation”, according to a company’s spokesperson.
The involvement of Slim is less of a surprise, given that his Telmex organisation has propelled Sauber driver Sergio Pérez into a race seat with the Swiss team this year.
Meanwhile, Ecclestone used the Chinese Grand Prix weekend to meet with German prosecutors investigating the bribery affair, which is investigating whether he paid the kickback to Gribkowsky.
“I have been cooperating with the investigation of the affairs of Dr Gribkowsky since the outset,” Ecclestone is quoted in a press release.
“I am confident that when the full facts have been established, I will be exonerated of blame for any wrongdoing.”
CVC’s chief, Donald Mackenzie is next in line to be interviewed, according to the latest reports, although it was stressed that he is not “suspected or accused of any wrongdoing.”
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