Sky, Liberty may join race to buy stake in F1

LONDON - Broadcasting giant Sky and John Malone's Liberty Global are weighing offers for a £4.5 billion (S$9.6 billion) controlling stake in Formula One, gatecrashing the similar plans of a Qatari-backed consortium.

Last week, it emerged that RSE Ventures, a company founded by Miami Dolphins American football team owner Stephen Ross, had teamed up with Qatar Sports Investments, owner of French football club Paris Saint-Germain, to work on a bid.

But insiders say the RSE-Qatari team are just one of several buyers in contact with CVC, the private equity firm that owns the F1 stake.

Sources said Sky and Liberty, which have long coveted F1, have held informal discussions with CVC about a deal.

Canadian fashion tycoon Lawrence Stroll, who helped to build the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors brands, has also been linked with a bid.

CVC has recruited Goldman Sachs to advise on its options.

The RSE-Qatari bid is expected to flush out rival offers in the coming months, with a bidding war expected.

CVC owns a 35.5 per cent stake in F1 but controls the sport because its shares have special voting rights.

The private equity giant first bought into the sport in 2006, paying £1.2 billion to take control from a group of shareholders.

These included F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and the banks JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank.

It is expected to make five times its original investment when it sells out.

F1 is viewed as one of the most valuable prizes in global broadcasting.

THE SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2015, with the headline 'Sky, Liberty may join race to buy stake in F1'. Print Edition | Subscribe