Murdoch confirms interest in buying F1

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is looking to buy into Formula 1 in partnership with a company with strong links to Ferrari.

In an joint statement with Italian investment group EXOR, News Corp confirmed rumours that had been rife for weeks.

The statement said: "EXOR, one of Europe's largest listed investment companies, and News Corporation, the global media group, confirm that they are in the early stages of exploring the possibility of creating a consortium with a view to formulating a long-term plan for the development of Formula 1 in the interests of the participants and the fans.

"Over the coming weeks and months, EXOR and News Corporation will approach potential minority partners and key stakeholders in the sport. There can be no certainty that this will lead to an approach to Formula 1's current owners."

Bernie Ecclestone, who currently runs F1 on behalf of the sports owners, private equity firm CVC Partners, doubted News Corp and EXOR's success in a takeover bid.

"Personally I know CVC don't want to sell, so it's going to be a bit difficult. I can see CVC in it for the long haul, absolutely 100%," Ecclestone told the BBC.

"I can't understand why a company as big as News Corp need to keep looking for partners. First it was Carlos Slim, and now we've a new one," Ecclestone added, referring to initial speculation that Murdoch's company was in talks with the Mexican billionaire who sponsors the Sauber team.

News Corp's choice of partner is interesting and potentially controversial. EXOR is run by John Elkann, chairman of Ferrari's parent company, Fiat. EXOR is also controlled by the Agnelli family which has enjoyed a close relationship with Ferrari for many years.

A takeover involving News Corp could also lead to the sport switching to pay-TV, a move that would require a change to the current Concorde Agreement, the commercial agreement between the teams, the FIA and CVC, which stipulates that F1 should be broadcast on free-to-air channels wherever possible.
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