CVC Capital Partners – Formula 1's majority shareholder, owning 75 per cent of the sport – has dismissed suggestions made by Max Mosley that it is considering selling up should a large offer be presented on the negotiating table.
Together with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company, CVC controls the commercial rights of the top flight, but as part of the ongoing power struggle over F1's ownership and direction in the years to come, FIA President Mosley has claimed the organisation could be looking to sell its stake in the business, describing Ecclestone's advancing years as a hindrance to the future of the sport.
Mosley, who is himself 68, is lobbying for a more influential role for governing body the FIA, and has stipulated as part of his terms for a new Concorde Agreement that the teams should be allocated an increased, 75 per cent share of the sport's prize money (the current figure is just 50 per cent), the domain of private equity group CVC and FOM.
CVC president Donald McKenzie and FOM chief executive Ecclestone met all ten F1 team principals at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters last week as together they set up the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), to protect the teams' interests in the sport in the light of the sweeping changes in the regulations to be introduced by the FIA from next year [see separate story – click here
“They (CVC) tell me they are in no hurry [to sell],” Mosley told The Times
. “If a sovereign wealth fund came along with a huge amount of money then they'd be tempted, but I suspect it would be getting to the stage where Bernie is replaced. If someone wanted to buy it, the whole business depends on a man who is 78-years-old.
“Eventually, I think we will agree a compromise while they (CVC) abandon a lot of control that they have over the sporting side and, in return, we (the FIA) will give them much greater freedom to sell the business to whomever they want.”
In a short statement issued to the media during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in Budapest, however, CVC sought to rubbish any such talk.
'Following recent press speculation CVC is pleased to clarify a number of matters,' the statement read. 'We have no plans to sell our stake in Formula 1. We see our investment as long-term and we are pleased with its performance to-date.
'The Formula One Group continues to be led by Bernie Ecclestone, there are no plans to replace him and we are delighted with the results of the business under his management.
'The Formula One Group has an agreement in place for 2008-2012 which governs the division of income generated by the sport, by way of prize fund.'
CVC acquired control of the Formula One Group back in 2006, 'after a period of turbulence', The Times
states, 'when it seemed that Ecclestone had lost his grip. [Ecclestone] was kept on by CVC as chief executive of FOM, simply because he pulls every string in the Formula 1 paddock'.
The company also owns British department store Debenhams and the Saga-AA Group.