SEPTEMBER 21, 1998
Ecclestone and Murdoch
ALTHOUGH Bernie Ecclestone's plans to float Formula One Holdings are currently on hold because of a dispute between the FIA and the European Commission we believe that Bernie still intends to sell shares in the company once the stock markets have gotten over the current financial crisis.
There have, however, been signs of contact between Ecclestone and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, with rumors in July that FOH might be sold to the Australian for $600m. Given the fact that Murdoch has just paid $1bn for the Manchester United soccer team the figure rumored for F1 seems to be rather small.
Murdoch has been paying out billions in recent years for TV rights to various sporting events - he is rumored to be close to a $2.2bn deal for the rights to soccer matches in Italy. He has also started buying teams and franchises so that in the long term he can control not only TV but the sports themselves, thus cutting out the middlemen in sports television.
Ecclestone knows that if Murdoch is willing to pay $1bn for one soccer team in Britain, Formula 1 is worth a lot more and so may hold out for the $4bn that he hoped to raise with the original flotation plan 18 months ago.