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Ecclestone: All quiet on the News Corp front

24 September 2011

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that News Corporation's much-hyped potential involvement in F1 appears to have been put on the back-burner in recent weeks, having heard nothing from Rupert Murdoch's disgraced company.

As recently as a couple of months ago, the Australian media mogul was being touted as the sport's next owner, but the torrent of accusations that came with the 'phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World newspaper appears to have also taken its toll on the bid to replace CVC Capital Partners.

Despite much-publicised tie-ups with the likes of Ferrari-linked Exor and other potential backers amid 'a view to formulating a long-term plan for the development of F1' and the announcement that the Murdoch-owned Sky Sports would share future television coverage with the BBC, Ecclestone confirmed that there had been no further interest in taking ownership of the top flight.

“News Corp has not made a return visit,” he told LondonlovesBusiness, “I have no doubt in my mind that, if somebody came along with a respectable, sensible offer, [CVC] would probably say 'let's have a chat'. I think one or two people have come along with an offer they probably thought was sensible, but CVC didn't.”

Murdoch this week agreed to make a personal £1m payment to charities chosen by the family of murder victim Milly Dowler after it emerged that the teenager's 'phone had been among those hacked by NotW journalists. News Corp is in the process of finalising a multi-million compensation payment to the family.

With speculation that the competing teams may launch their own bid to gain a bigger say in the running of the sport [see story here], Ecclestone admits that he is unlikely to ever regain total control of the category that he helped turn into a multi-million dollar business.

“It isn't likely that I would buy F1 back and I can't imagine taking back majority control,” he conceded, “CVC would want what it is worth and I wouldn't want to pay what it is worth. Not that it is not worth it, but it would be a lot of money. It's a big thing to hang around your neck at my age.”


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