EM.TV set to take 50% share in Formula One

EM.TV, the German media company, is close to taking a 50 per cent stake in Formula One motor racing, it is understood.

Sources close to the deal say the German group will pay about £1.3bn to share control of grand prix racing with the sport's high-profile promoter, Bernie Ecclestone.

EM.TV hit the headlines last month when it announced it was paying $680m (£433m) in cash and stock to buy The Jim Henson Company, maker of the Muppets and the children's television show Sesame Street.

EM.TV is expected buy out shares owned by Hellman & Friedman, the US private equity group which holds 37.5 per cent of Formula One, and Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, which holds 12.5 per cent.

Hellman & Friedman bought its stake from Mr Ecclestone for $712.5m on 20 February. It is expected to make a profit of more than $600m on the deal in less than two months.