The sale of a large stake in Formula One is on the cards, according to a report in The Sun. The ‘paper reports that F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has agreed a price with two interested parties.
Investment firm CVC currently holds a 35% stake in F1 and it is those shares that are set to be sold. It has been rumoured for some time that CVC was looking to unload its shares. The sale is expected to net the firm £6 billion.
The Sun quotes Ecclestone saying: “I think CVC will make a decision on the sale sooner or later. There are people who want to buy. Actually, two of the people have agreed the price. It’s a question or whether CVC wants to sell or not.”
CVC bought a majority holding in F1 in 2006 for £1.2 billion; around half of that has already been sold to American investors. Ecclestone holds a five percent stake. The 85-year old has run the sport since the Seventies and has held the commercial rights for much of that time. His personal fortune is estimated at £2.45 billion.
It isn’t clear if Ecclestone would stay on should a new owner take control. Despite his age (and that of much of his team) he is showing no inclination towards retirement, though many within and outside the sport would welcome it.
Those and many other parties will be hoping a change of ownership brings a change of governance. Under the current system, decisions are often slow in coming (2017’s new technical rules) and those that are made are often misguided (the disastrous elimination-style qualifying tried in Australia).
And that’s before you get into how revenues are divided up between the shareholders and teams, and the crippling cost to circuits of hosting a race, which has brought Silverstone to its knees and could force the loss of the Italian and German Grand Prix.
Ecclestone himself recently called F1 “the worst it has ever been,” and last week the Grand Prix Drivers Assocation issued an open letter itemising a long list of complaints.
On what the future may hold under new owners, Ecclestone said: “you don’t know what’s going to happen until somebody buys and you see what they are like. How do you know if you get on with them?”
The entire paddock and fans around the world will no doubt be hoping that Ecclestone has been negotiating rather more than just the price and his position.
By Only Motors