Fiat linked to News Corporation bid for F1

2011 F1 season

Fiat logos on Ferrari

Fiat logos on Ferrari

An investment group close to Fiat is considering joining News Corp in a bid to take over Formula 1.

News Corp’s bid is being handled by Exor SpA, an investment company which is the majority shareholder in the Fiat Group.

The chairman and chief executive officer of Exor is John Elkann, who has also been chairman of Fiat since April last year.

He is the grandson of Gianni Agnelli, who became the president of Fiat in 1966, and remained so for three decades before moving into an honorary role prior to his death in 2003.

Fiat purchased a controlling interest in Ferrari three years after Agnelli became chairman. Following Agnelli’s death Ferrari’s F1 car for that season was named the F2003-GA after him.

Update: Exor have issued the following joint statement with News Corp:

“Exor, one of Europe?s largest listed investment companies, and News Corporation, the global media group, confirm that they are in the early stages of exploring the possibility of creating a consortium with a view to formulating a long-term plan for the development of Formula 1 in the interests of the participants and the fans.

“Over the coming weeks and months, Exor and News Corporation will approach potential minority partners and key stakeholders in the sport. There can be no certainty that this will lead to an approach to Formula 1?s current owners.”

Update: F1 owners CVC have issued this statement in response:

“CVC can confirm that it has recently received an approach from the Exor News Corporation consortium.

“James Murdoch has informed us that the approach is friendly, at a very preliminary stage, and that they acknowledge that Formula 1 is privately owned by CVC and not currently for sale.

“CVC recognises the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors,but any investment in Formula 1 will require CVC’s agreement and will need to demonstrate that it is in the interest of the sport and its stakeholders, taken as a whole.”

Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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109 comments on Fiat linked to News Corporation bid for F1

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  1. John H said on 3rd May 2011, 19:12

    Ferrari and Sky eh.

    Time to form that breakaway series methinks.

  2. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 3rd May 2011, 19:14

    So a broadcasting company wants to take over the commercial rights of a sport, entrusting the task to a company which is the majority shareholder in the parent company of one of the competitors, who use their success and exposure as a platform to sell their road vehicles?

    This has conflict of interest written all over it.

    • Dan Newton said on 3rd May 2011, 19:26

      You’ve got that right, for sure.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 3rd May 2011, 19:48

      Agree. I was fine with just a News Corp takeover, but to have Exor Spa involved is just bad news. Ferrari throw their weight around currently, and I cannot imagine what would happen to the sport if they had an ex Fiat executive running the sport for them.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 3rd May 2011, 19:52

      I agree. Probably they wouldn’t make Ferrari win blatantly, but if Ferrari won there would be people saying it was becuase of Fiat.

      • Icthyes said on 3rd May 2011, 20:32

        Nah, I was thinking along the lines of increased exposure, even greater heritage bonuses, etc.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd May 2011, 20:56

      Nah, This is Monti telling Bernie he can do it without him if needed to put the pressure on towards the Concorde Agreement talks.

      Political strategy in the background it is. Makes sense, although Slim and Murdoch looking for quality content to put through their channels / devices / networks will be a serious option.

    • Hairpin (@hairpin) said on 3rd May 2011, 21:21

      Makes a bit more sense of Bernie changing his mind and siding with Ferrari over the new for 2013 engine rules. Of course there is no nor will there be any special relationship with FOM or the FIA afterwards if this goes ahead.
      God help F1

    • Oliver said on 3rd May 2011, 21:28

      There is no conflict of interest. We still have the FIA acting as unfair fair stewards.

    • Dane said on 4th May 2011, 0:58

      There is nothing wrong with Todt being in charge of FIA, Mclaren supplying all ECU’s, & no problem with Elkman being linked to a possible takeover. F1 is full of conflicts of interests

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 4th May 2011, 16:57

        Except McLaren are supposed to deliver standard ECUs. Broadcasters are under no obligation to give everyone equal airtime. Cue Ferrari on TV for half the race and Ferrari/Santander ads run for free in between. Unlikely, but is leaving the possibility open that smart?

        Todt is also one man who can’t do anything just because he wants it to happen.

    • njw said on 4th May 2011, 9:39

      Yeah, this is starting to stink.

  3. moondoggy said on 3rd May 2011, 19:27

    Thank goodness the Italians are involved. It’ll take 10 years to come about and they’ll make a complete mess of it. I smell a rival competition coming on. How many teams will want to race under a company that owns Farrari?

    • Butterfly said on 3rd May 2011, 20:04

      What are you all complaining about? Ferrari will bring back testing while NewsCorp will turn F1 into the best spectacle on Earth.

      • f1fanboy said on 3rd May 2011, 20:10

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Joke of the season right there…

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd May 2011, 20:12

        Ferrari will bring back testing

        Have you ever been to a test session? Compared to a race it’s really boring.

        NewsCorp will turn F1 into the best spectacle on Earth

        And maybe we’ll get to see some of it between the ad breaks.

        • Lee said on 3rd May 2011, 20:21

          This is going to be the first time in my life i with be thankful for the existence of the EU. Even before Bernie made reference to the agreement with the EU that the sport must be available on terrestrial free to view TV where available the whole purchase had EU veto written all over it.

          The lefties in brussels will do all they can to ensure Murcock doesnt get his grubby hands on F1.

          Having the sport on pay per view or subscription model television will also surely lead to a backlash from sponsors? The teams might see more short term cash, but with an inevitable drop in viewing figures due to far far less people having satellite or pay per view tv (as happened with the cricket in England when sky got hold of it) sponsors will surely lose out on a lot of exposure.

          • Hairpin (@hairpin) said on 3rd May 2011, 21:39

            Don’t be to reliant on this agreement to show F1 on ‘free’ terrestrial TV, it could still comply with Bernie’s so called agreement by showing it first on pay TV live, then showing it later or the following day on ‘free’ TV.
            Meets the requirements of the EU but not quite as we might like it.
            I don’t trust the little dwarf one iota, but you may have guessed this by now.

        • mild7nick said on 3rd May 2011, 22:54

          Bang on Keith!

          And to my mind F1 already is the best spectacle in the world!

          Of course its not perfect but there really isnt a whole lot “broken” with it at the moment that needs fixing

        • Butterfly said on 4th May 2011, 7:40

          Look, all the teams need testing back. Even the poor teams need to make sure their cars finish the race.

          As for the spectacle, I wouldn’t say F1 is worth watching at the moment.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th May 2011, 8:09

            Look, all the teams need testing back. Even the poor teams need to make sure their cars finish the race.

            That’s plainly not the case. Reliability is better than it’s ever been. In the last race 23 cars finished – a record – and that’s part of a wider trend:

            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2011/04/18/2011-chinese-grand-prix-stats-facts/

            All that bringing back testing would do is reduce the teams’ need to run during race weekend practice sessions, and hand a huge advantage to the wealthiest teams who can afford to do tens of thousands of kilometres of testing every year. Neither of which would be good for F1.

          • Hewis Lamilton said on 4th May 2011, 16:27

            All that bringing back testing would do is reduce the teams’ need to run during race weekend practice sessions, and hand a huge advantage to the wealthiest teams who can afford to do tens of thousands of kilometres of testing every year. Neither of which would be good for F1.

            Great point, but one positive point of a return to testing would that there would actually be test drivers being used again in Formula 1.

        • F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 4th May 2011, 8:06

          And maybe we’ll get to see some of it between the ad breaks.

          i’m sure it will be in there somewhere behind all the flashy graphics, dancing robots, etc.

        • Adrian J said on 4th May 2011, 8:42

          And maybe we’ll get to see some of it between the ad breaks.

          Not I, I wouldn’t be able to afford Sky Sports just for F1.

      • moondoggy said on 3rd May 2011, 20:13

        Well first of all we’ll have to pay to watch F1. Secondly, I hope you like television commercials. Thirdly it’ll turn into a circus…..Bernie’s rain machines will be conservative in comparison.

        I already think it is a pretty good show, last few seasons have been fantastic, and other than the DRS making for a bit of fake overtaking, this one will be a cracker.

        Why do we need testing? I can’t honestly say I’ve ever sat down to watch a race and thought it could have done with 5 or 600 hours more testing.

  4. moondoggy said on 3rd May 2011, 19:33

    This says it all. From Skynews”
    “News Corp is working with Exor SpA, which is headed by John Elkann, chairman and chief executive of Fiat (the owner of Ferrari, F1′s most important car manufacturer) on putting together a consortium to bid for F1.”

  5. Dipak T said on 3rd May 2011, 19:36

    This is ridiculous. Like Icthyes said, conflict of interest is written all over this and I really doubt the FIA will allow F1 to be sold to Murdoch.

  6. Zadak (@thezadak) said on 3rd May 2011, 19:47

    this would be a disaster

  7. Dan Newton said on 3rd May 2011, 19:54

    Thinking about it I’m sure the (other) teams won’t allow it. After all it would be in there best interest not to.

  8. Abuelo Paul said on 3rd May 2011, 19:56

    Well, it won’t be long before Bernie is collecting his readies, opting out and leaving the commercial interests of F1 to another bunch of money collectors. It can only be bad for the SPORT. And of course its supporters. How long before it goes completely subscription and the majority of the people who watch the SPORT for enjoyment get priced out. Look at professional football. Its all on pay per view if its worth watching. At least with Bernie and the teams we know that is free to air so far, with that commitment by all currently involved. New owners, new agreements and new “pricing” to recoup their outlay. No-one goes all out to buy a charity.

  9. Calum (@calum) said on 3rd May 2011, 19:58

    So long as the F1 takeover is seamless and unoticeable on the track, I don’t care what happens, if F1 is still on free UK tv. :)

    • Lee said on 3rd May 2011, 20:23

      it wont be, to both your points.

    • Hairpin (@hairpin) said on 3rd May 2011, 22:02

      ‘Free’ don’t you pay your TV license, I do and I consider that’s enough. With all the re-runs and idiotic dance programs or Eurovision song contest etc, I don’t think i’m getting value for money as it is. I’d like to see some ALMS as well as F1 but thats only pay view, and have you heard me complain about it?. Well previously no but now you’ve rattled my cage I am now.

  10. Butterfly said on 3rd May 2011, 20:08

    It would be great to see a dedicated F1 channel with 24/7 coverage of the sport. That would be a reason for me to pay the TV tax monthly. I would definitely pay for that. Everything else on TV is just crap.

    • SparkyJ23 (@sparkyj23) said on 3rd May 2011, 22:44

      WE get already get all the coverage that there is apart from the pre-season testing the BBC has shown every minute of the season. There is no more coverage to be watched.

  11. TMFOX said on 3rd May 2011, 20:24

    Oh for goodness sake!

    What I’d really like to say isn’t appropriate.

  12. lamo2741 said on 3rd May 2011, 20:29

    You only need to look at how well bernies pay per view channel was on sky a few years ago to see how unsuccessful f1would be to leave bbc and head to sky……

    • Don Mateo said on 3rd May 2011, 21:05

      But at the time F1 was also available free to air, and let’s be honest, most people will take the free option if it’s available. However, if News Corp make F1 PPV, that will be the only option, so it’ll be a case of pay up or don’t watch. Personally I’ll be falling into the latter category if it goes PPV. Thank goodness the BTCC is getting decent TV coverage these days.

  13. VXR said on 3rd May 2011, 20:53

    Breakaway series via the back door?

    Who knows, Ferrari may even get its V12 engines after all. And we’ll be paying for them! Well, I won’t be paying, even if it does got to SKY. But I would prefer that it remained FTA and advertisement free.

  14. I hope Lee is correct in his earlier comment about the EU wanting to keep Murdoch’ grubby hands off the sport. The thought of F1 on PPV TV only fills me with sadness. I know News Corp were stopped from buying Manchester Utd a few years back because of there dominace in sport already, hopefully something similar……

  15. BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd May 2011, 21:01

    On the other hand, it might just be about getting some strong deep pockets guys together to take over the sport. The Agnelli family is rich and needs nice places to put its investments and make even more money, just like Slim does and in Murdoch as well.

    F1 clearly is interesting and this is really getting the message going to start interested parties inquiring at CVC what the deal will surmount to.

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