Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that a majority share in the sport could be sold by the end of this year.
“Our shareholders are in a position at the moment where they have to lose some, or all, of their shares shortly,” Ecclestone said while addressing the Camp Beckenbauer Global Summit by telephone.
“There has been a lot of interest, and I would say there are three parties at the moment [where] I’d be surprised if one of them doesn’t buy shortly,” he added.
When asked how soon a sale could happen, Ecclestone said: “This year.”
CVC Capital Partners are currently the biggest single shareholder in F1, with 35.5%. Ecclestone holds 5.3% and his Bambino family trust has 8.4%. Other shareholders include investment management company Blackrock, fund manager Waddell & Reed, Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Norges and defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers.
Potential buyers include a US-Qatari consortium led by Stephen Ross, owner of NFL team the Miami Dolphins, which is understood be interested in CVC’s shares. Liberty Global and Discovery Communications, headed by billionaire John Malone, have also been mentioned.
As with any business in which shares are traded, changing ownership of F1 is to be expected. But Ecclestone is a man who rarely says what he means and frequently has an ulterior motive. Sceptics will be asking questions about why he has made these comments, at this time.
By Only Motors