Silverlake and IMG look to buy F1 shareholding
High price tag has put off previous potential investors, but the consortium are already in discussion with majority owner CVC
American technology investment group Silverlake and sports marketing giant IMG are together looking to buy a major shareholding in Formula 1. Senior sources say the consortium is in talks with controlling shareholder CVC about an F1 involvement, but that an agreement has yet to be reached.
The two are the latest in a long list of potential investors in the sport’s commercial rights, and it remains to be seen whether their interest becomes more concrete than other bidders whose interest has come to nothing.
The stumbling block in any deal has typically been the valuation of the sport, which CVC puts at $8bn. There is also uncertainty over F1’s future, notably about the fact that the teams’ contracts run out at the end of 2020, with the exception of Renault’s, which runs until 2024.
Sources say CVC chairman Donald Mackenzie is keen to stay involved in F1 no matter what happens to shareholdings. And F1 boss Bernie Bernie Ecclestone (left) and Donald Mackenzie (right) are both keen to remain involved in F1
Ecclestone is said to be “looking very strong in the saddle”, according to one senior insider.
That is not a reflection of the power he has to make changes to sporting and technical regulations – where Mercedes and Ferrari currently have a stranglehold on decisionmaking, as evidenced by Ecclestone’s inability to kill off hybrid engines. It is rather a statement of the security of his position as CEO of the F1 Group, which has been strengthened by financial performance.
Ecclestone has in recent months concluded a lucrative new tyre-supply deal with Pirelli, a huge new corporate sponsorship deal with Heineken, plus a new TV deal with Sky in the UK worth a £1bn over six years. And his latest addition to the calendar, the race in Azerbaijan, is said to be worth $70m a year.