Bernie Ecclestone denies F1 takeover stories

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The Independent Online

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed speculation of a potential takeover of Formula One by a consortium led by News Corporation.

It has been suggested global media giant News Corp has held talks with the world's richest man, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and a leading manufacturer, rumoured to be Ferrari, with regard to the possibility of making a bid for F1.

However, Ecclestone, the chief executive of owners and commercial rights holders, venture capital company CVC, claims the story is without foundation.

"It is all rubbish," Ecclestone told The Times.

"Formula One is not for sale. And, anyway, we would not sell to a media company because it would restrict the ability to negotiate with other broadcasters."

Ecclestone, though, did sell to a media company, the Kirch Group in Germany, only for the deal to fall through, which then allowed CVC to step in and acquire F1 for around £1.8billion in 2006.

Ecclestone claims any offer now would have to be "ridiculous", but the combined might of News Corp, Slim, who is reputed to be worth around £45billion, and Ferrari, could comfortably make a bid.

Any takeover, however, would be subject to a new Concorde Agreement being in place.

That is a commercial arrangement involving the teams, CVC and the FIA that binds all parties to the sport, with the current deal expiring at the end of next year.