The owner of the Miami Dolphins is reportedly lining up a $7-8 billion bid to buy control of Formula One with backing from Qatar Sports Investment [QSI].
The news first emerged in the Financial Times on Wednesday, although negotiations are still believed to be at an early stage, with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone telling the newspaper he is not yet aware of a deal on the table. The report says QSI ultimately wants to own the whole of F1 and is backing RSE Ventures, led by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, in targeting a deal to obtain CVC Capital's controlling stake of 35.5% along with Ecclestone's holding of roughly 5%.
Speculation over the future ownership of Formula One has been rife since CVC sold $1.6bn of equity to BlackRock, Norges Bank and Waddell & Reed in 2012 before considering a flotation on the Singapore stock exchange. More recently, Liberty Global and Discovery Communications attempted to negotiate a deal to buy 49% of the sport, including CVC's holding.
Ecclestone said CVC is currently in talks with several potential buyers, but would only sell if the price was right.
"There are three or four people talking to CVC but I don't know how close things have got at this stage," Ecclestone said. "If they decide to sell, they will have to tell me because I am a shareholder.
"CVC are in the business of buying and selling companies. The point is that they are very happy with F1. But their business is selling and everything has a price."
Ross, a 75-year-old property tycoon, founded RSE Ventures in 2012 and has recently held talks with David Beckham about the possibility of bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami. QSI owns French football team Paris St Germain and Qatar has been angling for a race on the F1 calendar for some time without success.