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Bernie Ecclestone: F1 sale possible 'this year'

Bernie Ecclestone says three possible buyers are sniffing around the majority share in Formula 1's commercial rights. The largest stakeholders have been diluting their share in the sport for some time now.

Formula 1's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone suggested on Tuesday that the controlling stake in the motorsport series might be sold by the end of 2015. Addressing a Camp Beckenbauer event via videolink, the 84-year-old said the decision rested with CVC Capital Partners and its chairman, Donald Mackenzie.

"Our shareholders at the moment are basically in such a position where they have to lose some of their shares, or all of them, shortly," Ecclestone told the summit in Kitzbühel, Austria. "There has been a lot of interest and I would say there are three parties at the moment. I'd be surprised if one of them don't buy very shortly."

Ecclestone did not name any interested parties.

New names, same faces?

CVC Capital Shareholders currently holds a 35-percent and controlling stake in F1's commercial rights, having scaled down its share from 63 percent since 2012. A much-hyped flotation of more of these shares on the Singapore stock market never materialized.

Ecclestone, hired to continue running F1 by CVC when it bought the rights, holds a 5.3-percent stake of his own. Some reports suggest Ecclestone might seek to expand his share, launching a personal buy-in with CVC's co-chairman Mackenzie.

Mackenzie told news agency Reuters in July that the private equity firm was under no pressure to sell, while Ecclestone suggested that the duo might look to buy in under their own names.

"Donald Mackenzie doesn't want to sell, simple as that. He loves Formula One, loves the business," Ecclestone said, before adding Mackenzie may have no choice but to sell up in his role with CVC. "Whether he will invest himself, maybe with me separately, we will have to wait and see."

One of the hotly tipped favorites is American billionaire Stephen Ross. The property mogul, who also owns NFL team the Miami Dolphins, has a fortune of nearly six billion euros ($6.7 billion). Ross was reportedly considering a bid along with partner Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), who own French football team Paris Saint-Germain.

jh, msh/ng (SID, AP)

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