Ecclestone says Sky deal would be suicidal for Formula One

Steve Dinneen
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FORMULA One boss Bernie Ecclestone has warned it would be “suicidal” for the sport to accept a move onto Sky as part of a potential News Corp takeover.

Ecclestone has fiercely opposed the “friendly” approach to F1 owner CVC Partners by Rupert Murdoch and Italian investment firm Exor, which has a 30.5 per cent stake in Ferrari owner Fiat SpA.

CVC has maintained its stance that its stake, which it snapped up for $1.8bn (£1.1bn) in 2006, is not for sale.

News Corp will find it almost impossible to build up a holding in the sport without the blessing of CVC, which owns 63.4 per cent of F1’s Jersey-based parent company Delta Topco.

News Corp has said it will approach minority shareholders, presumably with a view to building a stake in the sport. However, CVC has the right to first refusal on all shares in Delta Topco and a right to veto a sale.

More than 14 per cent of the sport is owned by Ecclestone, either personally or through his Bambino family trust, whose position on the sale could hardly be clearer.

News Corp is expected to offer £7.5bn for the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own after gaining provisional approval for the bid.