Ecclestone says Murdoch/Slim takeover reports 'rubbish'

By on Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Apr.20 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down widespread reports that media magnate Rupert Murdoch as well as Carlos Slim, the Sauber backer and richest man in the world, could be preparing a bid to take over formula one.

The initial report was carried exclusively by Sky News, part of Murdoch's News Corporation empire, but F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told the Telegraph it is "rubbish".

Sky said the talks, also including a car manufacturer involved in F1, are "in the early stages" and might in fact involve News Corporation bidding for television broadcast rights.

The latter detail could be significant for F1 fans, given Murdoch's notorious attitude about the pricing of media content.

"The company is kicking the tyres, as you would expect, given that there may be a serious business opportunity to examine in relation to F1," said a source.

Another added: "It is at a very, very early point and could lead to nothing or could lead to many different permutations."

And yet another source told the Guardian: "They (News Corp) are thinking about F1 and options they could take but that is all it is at this stage."

F1's current owner CVC declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mexican Slim's group of companies, while a spokesman for News Corporation said: "(We do) not comment on speculation."

Ecclestone said: "The sport is not for sale."

He told the UK Express newspaper: "I suppose anything you or I own is available to buy. But the offer would not have to be right -- it would have to be ridiculous."

A source said: "Unless any bidder - be it News Corp, its partners or a rival - is welcomed by Bernie, nothing is happening."

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