IS BERNIE CONSIDERING RETIRING? F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says three interested parties are in contention to buy the sports rights and the switch could be made before the end of 2015. Image: AFP/ Christof Stache
London, England - Formula One could have new owners by the end of 2015 with three parties currently interested, the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Tuesday (October 6).
The 84-year-old Briton, speaking in Austria, said: "Our shareholders at the moment are basically in such a position where they have to lose some of their shares, or all of them, shortly."
Three interested parties
Ecclestone added: "That's the way things are set up for them.
"There has been a lot of interest and I would say there are three parties at the moment. I'd be surprised if one of them don't buy very shortly."
Asked what sort of timeframe was likely, Ecclestone replied: "This year."
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Ecclestone did not name any of the interested parties.
CVC Capital Partners are currently the controlling shareholders with a 35.5% stake, while Ecclestone holds 5.3%.
U.S. investment groups BlackRock and Waddell & Reed, along with Norway's Norges Bank, are among other shareholders.
Another bid from Qatar on the cards?
Reports in June 2015 suggested that RSE Ventures, the investment vehicle of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, was teaming up with Qatar Sports Investments to buy CVC's stake in a potential $7 billion-$8 billion deal.
CVC's co-chairman Donald Mackenzie told Reuters in July, however, that the rights holders were under no pressure to sell.
Mackenzie said:"We like owning it (F1), we don't want to sell it. There are always some people who'd like to buy it, it's a very good business."
CVC sold down its holding from 63% in 2012 in deals that at the time gave the business an enterprise value, which includes debt and equity, of $9.1 billion.
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Ecclestone told Reuters separately in July 2015 that "lots of people have made approaches" and indicated he too might be interested in a takeover or buyout.
Eccelstone, speaking in July, said: "Donald Mackenzie doesn't want to sell, simple as that. He loves F1, loves the business. He may have to sell his shares.
"Whether he will invest himself, maybe with me separately, we will have to wait and see."