Unlike most business deals, which are negotiated behind closed doors with the general populace happily unaware, the effort to buy out the commercial rights to Formula One has been very public.
First came the rumors that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and a consortium of investors were interested in acquiring the rights from CVC Capital Partners, the current owners. Then their representative, Bernie Ecclestone, dismissed the reports offhand, insisting that the sport was not for sale. Following that, Exor (the Italian investment arm of the Agnelli family, which controls the Fiat empire) revealed itself to be the unnamed second party to Murdoch's consortium, confirming that a bid is in the making. Now, CVC and Ferrari have responded with statements of their own.
For CVC's part, the salient point in the press release (which you can read after the jump) is that while F1 is not currently for sale, "CVC recognises the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors," leading to speculation that News Corp and Exor could potentially buy part of the sport, if not the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Ferrari has responded to what it calls "many requests from the media wanting to know Ferrari's opinion on this matter," declaring that they are "not directly involved" in the bid and stressing "the importance of ensuring the long term stability and development of Formula 1." While Maranello can deny being directly involved, the notion that the Agnelli/Elkann family would look into acquiring F1 without consulting their own team (headed by longtime confidant Luca di Montezemolo) is a bit much to swallow.
For immediate release
CVC can confirm that it has recently received an approach from the Exor News Corporation consortium.
James Murdoch has informed us that the approach is friendly, at a very preliminary stage, and that they acknowledge that Formula 1 is privately owned by CVC and not currently for sale.
CVC recognises the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors,but any investment in Formula 1 will require CVC's agreement and will need to demonstrate that it is in the interest of the sport and its stakeholders,taken as a whole.
Ferrari stresses the need for stability and development in Formula 1
Maranello, 4 May – There has been much turbulent discussion following yesterday's press release from Exor and News Corporation regarding the future of Formula 1 and, obviously, there have been many requests from the media wanting to know Ferrari's opinion on this matter. "We have no comment to make, partly because we are not directly involved at the moment," said a Maranello spokesperson. "All we can do is repeat what has already been said so often in the past: Ferrari stresses the importance of ensuring the long term stability and development of Formula 1."