18 October 2019
CVC Capital Partners' 35.5 percent stake in Formula One could be worth US$7-8 billion. Photo: Bloomberg
CVC Capital Partners' 35.5 percent stake in Formula One could be worth US$7-8 billion. Photo: Bloomberg

CVC under no pressure to sell F1

CVC Capital Partners, commercial rights holder of Formula One, is under no pressure to sell its controlling stake in the sport and want to keep it, co-chairman Donald Mackenzie told Reuters.

Mackenzie would not comment on reports that RSE Ventures, the investment vehicle of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, was teaming up with Qatar to buy CVC’s stake in a potential US$7-8 billion deal.

Asked at the British Grand Prix whether the private equity fund had a deadline by which it had to sell its 35.5 percent stake, the media-shy businessman replied: “No, we don’t. There is no end date.”

“We have 12 year funds, which we have to return the original money. We have already done that. So the pressure’s off,” he added.

“We like owning [Formula One], 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 has twice tried to float Formula One, most recently in 2013, but the plans stalled and the fund instead sold stakes to US investment groups BlackRock and Waddell & Reed, along with Norway’s Norges Bank.

The fund sold down its holding from 63 percent in 2012 in deals that at the time gave the business an enterprise value, including debt and equity, of US$9.1 billion.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that a deal with Ross and the Qataris could be done within six weeks.

The source said Bernie Ecclestone, who has ruled over the sport for four decades, would stay on to lead the racing side of the business while Dieter Hahn, chairman of the supervisory board of German sports marketing media group Constantin Medien, was also involved.

Ecclestone told Reuters separately on Saturday that “lots of people have made approaches” and indicated he too might be interested in a takeover or buyout.

“Donald Mackenzie doesn’t want to sell, simple as that,” he said. “He loves Formula One, 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,” added the 84-year-old Briton who has been involved in several transfers of ownership of the commercial rights over the years.

Asked whether he might join a consortium including Red Bull or Mercedes, Ecclestone said: “Not those people.”

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