Formula One: News Corp. still silent about takeover bid

F1 LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC
Formula One: News Corp. remains silent about its Formula One takeover bid.

By QUENTIN SPURRING on 7/22/2011

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Rupert Murdoch’s embattled News Corp. has still made no comment about how the worldwide furor caused by the way it appears to conduct its media business might affect its bid to buy Formula One.

The attempt to buy out F1 owner CVC Capital Partners is known as “Project Corsa” (corsa is Italian for “race”) and is led by News Corp. and its partner in the enterprise, the Exor investment firm in Italy that controls the Fiat group, including Ferrari.

News Corp. and Exor have engaged Aletheia Partners, a London-based investment firm, on Project Corsa. They are known to have made overtures to several possible additional partners, including Carlos Slim, the Mexican entrepreneur who is said to be the world’s richest individual, and Raine Group, an American private equity fund based in New York.

In one sense, it seemed that the negative publicity surrounding News Corp. might have the effect not of decreasing but of increasing the possibility that the bid would go ahead. The damage to News Corp.’s reputation caused it to abandon--or at least postpone--an expensive acquisition of full ownership of the United Kingdom’s BSkyB pay-TV broadcaster, and that decision leaves a substantial pile of money on its balance sheet. However, this week, News Corp. announced that it would return some of the spare cash to investors via a share-buyback program. Whether this indicates that the F1 bid has also been put on the back burner is unclear.

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