News Corporation is in preliminary discussions with potential business partners, including the world's richest man, Carlos Slim, about entering a bid for Formula 1 motor racing, it was reported last night.
As well as the Mexican telecoms billionaire, Rupert Murdoch's global media company has also held talks with at least one Formula 1 team about putting a consortium together to purchase the business, according to Sky News – which is itself owned partly by News Corp.
It is understood that although the current owners of the motor racing business, the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, would consider an offer, they have not been contacted by News Corp, hold no plans to sell Formula 1, and were not previously aware of any bid being put together.
The talks are at such an early stage that it is possible that no bid may yet be made. However, if an offer does not materialise, Sky may instead attempt to purchase broadcasting rights to the sport, currently held exclusively in the UK by the BBC after it secured a five-year deal in 2009.
News Corp has a history of investing in sport – the broadcasting of which has played a major part in Mr Murdoch's success – having previously held a 9.9 per cent stake in Manchester United Football Club. Those shares were sold in 2003.
It is said to be taking advice on its possible new move from the investment bank JP Morgan, though no comment was forthcoming from that company. News Corp said last night that it would not "comment on speculation", and CVC Capital Partners also declined to comment.