Nov.9 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Rupert Murdoch’s interest in bidding to buy formula one might not be dead, according to the financial news agency Bloomberg.
Amid the News of the World and phone hacking scandal in the UK, News Corp’s interest in F1 together with the Ferrari-linked Exor company was believed to have receded.
But Bloomberg cites a “person familiar with the situation” as reporting that the bid to buy the sport’s commercial rights from CVC was “very much alive” just weeks ago.
And the source said Murdoch’s son James, and Exor’s John Elkann, are still “actively courting” the F1 team bosses “and working on a 5 to 10-year business plan” for the sport.
News Corp and Exor refused to comment, as did CVC.
But their apparent renewed interest in F1 could be linked to the beleaguered chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who on Wednesday will appear in Munich as a witness in Gerhard Gribkowsky’s corruption trial.
He said whether CVC wants to sell or not is none of his business.
“He (CVC’s Donald Mackenzie) is the guy who will turn the lights on and off,” said Ecclestone. “I have very few shares, so it’s nothing to do with me.”
His best card to play could be his impressive record at the sport’s helm.
“I could just walk out,” he warned.
As well as the Gribkowsky affair and a possible UK investigation, the rumblings about F1’s future also coincide with the expiring and all-important Concorde Agreement, with the teams pressing hard for more income.
“Let’s be clear: we’re poorly paid,” said Force India’s Vijay Mallya.
Ecclestone, however, ridicules the teams’ alliance FOTA, saying: “I don’t know where they meet — probably Starbucks or somewhere. These are nice coffee chats.”
Max Mosley, who controlled F1 hand-in-hand with Ecclestone for decades, tips his old friend to win the day on all counts.
“If he went into a revolving door behind you,” the former FIA president said, “he would come out in front.”