US and Qatari team gears up for £5bn F1 deal

Caitlin Morrison
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RSE Ventures and Qatar Sports Investments are keen to buy a £5bn stake in F1 from CVC Partners
FORMULA 1 could make its first breakthrough into the US market if a deal being put together by the owner of American football team the Miami Dolphins and Qatar Sports Investments is successful.

RSE Ventures, founded by US real estate and sports tycoon Stephen Ross, is targeting a 35.5 per cent stake, currently owned by CVC Capital Partners, with a bid worth up to $8bn (£5bn).

RSE is in the early stages of talks with current F1 owner CVC Capital Partners, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the deal.

The US group, which has held talks with ex-England footballer David Beckham about bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami, is backed by the Qatari investment vehicle, which owns the Paris St-Germain football club.

Any agreement would see F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone sell his holding in the company, which is around five per cent, the Financial Times reported, citing a source who said the prospective buyers “believe he brings a lot to the sport and they can help expand it into the US and Chinese markets”.

Ecclestone has previously been a controversial figure, and last year agreed to pay a German court $100m (£64m) to settle a bribery case.

The 84-year-old billionaire was accused of bribing German banker Gerhard Gribowsky with $44m in order to ensure the sale of a major stake in Formula 1 eight years ago.

CVC declined to comment last night, and RSE said “we can’t comment at this time”.

CVC, whose interests in F1 are looked after by Bernie Ecclestone, has been F1’s biggest shareholder for about a decade, although in the last few years it has reduced its stake. In 2012, the company came close to floating the sport’s holding company on the Singapore stock market.

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