Formula 1

Post-Bernie era draws closer for F1

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

At 83 years of age it’s hardly rocket science to suggest Bernie Ecclestone’s days in Formula 1 are numbered. However, as the F1 supremo increasingly finds himself dealing with unwanted court cases the landscape of F1 and its ownership could be facing significant change.

Joe Saward explains:

Financial rumours are always to be treated with care because one never knows why the news is being leaked and who gains the most from such leaks. Quite often such stories are not at all what they seem to be. The word, however, is that US media billionaire John Malone, who is in the middle of a major expansion into European markets, is looking to buy control of Delta Topco, the parent company of the Formula One group, in order to be in a position to decide which TV channels would be buying the media rights to F1 racing, so as to either boost the revenues of other companies in his empire, or to charge his rivals more for the same privilege.

Malone has been busy investing in Euro television channels, including Virgin Media (Britain), Ziggo (Netherlands), Telenet (Belgium), Unitymedia (Germany) and he also own a controlling stake in Eurosport. It seems too simple to think that he could simply buy the Formula 1 media rights and hand over the broadcasting to his own companies.

That’s because it is too simple, as Saward goes on to explain:

The word is that he [Malone] wants to acquire the Formula One shares currently controlled by CVC Capital Partners, which wants to cash out in F1 because its plans for a stock market flotation have been blocked by the legal troubles surrounding F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

However, this does not necessarily mean that a buyer would actually control the Formula One empire because this appears to influenced by a parallel company called Delta Prefco, which has some of the same shareholders as Delta Topco. These investors get a different (and preferential) deal to those involved in Topco.

The rights to Formula 1’s broadcasting and wider management is certainly a confusing tale of corporate intrigue. We recommend you follow the source link to read Saward’s article in full.

[Source: Joe Saward | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]