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Ecclestone says no to buying back F1

NEWS STORY
21/09/2011

There is no doubt that 2011 has been a tough year for Formula One's boss Bernie Ecclestone. First he found himself being accused of paying a £27m bribe to undervalue F1 when it was sold to its current owner, the private equity firm CVC, in 2006. Then it was said he could be forced out of his own job if F1 is sold to the much-maligned media group News Corporation. The connection between both of these events is F1 being sold - something which Ecclestone would of course not have to worry about if he bought the sport back himself.

It has long been speculated that Ecclestone would take back majority ownership of F1, something which he has not had since February 1996. In May, at the height of the News Corp buyout rumours, German sports magazine Auto, Motor und Sport reported that Ecclestone and Patrick McNally, the founder of F1's corporate hospitality business the Paddock Club would make a takeover bid for F1 backed by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. However, Ecclestone says there is no truth to the rumour.

Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt reveals this today in an article on finance website LondonLovesBusiness which has been somewhat graciously promoted by his fellow Telegraph journalist Tom Cary. "It isn't likely that I would buy F1 back and I can't imagine taking back majority control," Ecclestone told Sylt recently. "CVC would want what it is worth and I wouldn't want to pay what it is worth. Not that it is not worth it but it would be a lot of money. It's a big thing to hang around your neck at my age."

Ecclestone turns 81 next month and McNally officially retired this year. "The last thing that Paddy wants is to have to work. He has given up because he wants to go shooting and skiing," says Ecclestone.

After eight months of turbulence, it looks like Ecclestone is over the worst of it. As Pitpass has reported, comments last month from the chief financial officer of F1's former owner BayernLB prove that the sport was not undervalued and no bribe was paid in connection with the sale. Likewise, the phone hacking scandal, which is far from over, has put paid to any hope of News Corp buying F1. It will be lucky if it manages to hold on to its own businesses, let alone buy mew ones, as Ecclestone says "News Corp have not made a return visit." Few would doubt that F1 is much better off without them.

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