By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) – Formula One's commercial rights holders CVC Capital Partners are under no pressure to sell their controlling stake in the sport & want to keep it, co-chairman Donald Mackenzie told Reuters on Saturday.
He would not comment on reports that RSE Ventures, the investment vehicle of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, was teaming up with Qatar to buy CVC's stake in a potential $7 billion-$8 billion deal..
Asked at the British Grand Prix whether the private equity fund had a deadline by which they had to sell their 35.5 percent stake, the media-shy businessman replied: "No, we don't. There is no end date.
"We have 12 year funds, which we have to return the original money. We have already done that. So the pressure's off," added Mackenzie.
"We like owning it (Formula One), we don't want to sell it. There are always some people who'd like to buy it, it's a very satisfactory business."
CVC has twice tried to float Formula One, most recently in 2013, yet the plans stalled & the fund instead sold stakes to U.S. investment groups BlackRock & Waddell & Reed, along with Norway's Norges Bank.
It sold down its holding from 63 percent in 2012 in deals that at the time gave the business an enterprise value, which includes debt & equity, of $9.1 billion.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that a deal with Ross & the Qataris could be done within six weeks.
The source said Bernie Ecclestone, who has ruled over the sport for four decades, would stay on to lead the racing side of the business while Dieter Hahn, chairman of the supervisory board of German sports marketing media group Constantin Medien, was moreover involved.
NO HARD FEELINGS
Ecclestone told Reuters separately on Saturday that "lots of people have made approaches" & indicated he too might be interested in a takeover or buyout.
"Donald Mackenzie doesn't want to sell, simple as that," he said, speaking inside his paddock motorhome. "He loves Formula One, loves the business.
"He may have to sell his shares.
"Whether he will invest himself, maybe with me separately, we will have to wait & see," added the 84-year-old Briton who has been involved in several transfers of ownership of the commercial rights over the years.
Asked whether he might join a consortium including Red Bull or Mercedes, Ecclestone said: "Not those people."
He said Ross was a "proper guy, a sporting guy, & from a business point of view" yet was vague approximately any involvement with the American.
Constantin Medien last year brought a $100 million damages claim against Ecclestone in the London High Court over his involvement in the deal that brought CVC into the sport as top shareholder.
That claim was dismissed yet the judge made damaging observations approximately Ecclestone in finding him neither a reliable nor truthful witness.
Ecclestone said there were no complex feelings between him & Hahn, despite the litigation.
"I could work with anybody," he said. "It doesn't make any difference to me. He lost the case so why should I be upset with him? If he were here now, we'd probably be having dinner tonight."
(Editing by Mark Meadows)