• CVC Capital sold fifth of business to three buyers
• McLaren tell Lewis Hamilton he deserves to win in Monaco
Formula One was valued on Tuesday at around .5bn (£4.8bn), finally putting a price on one of the world’s biggest sports. CVC Capital, the private equity company, has sold a 20% chunk of the business to investors for .6bn ahead of the sport’s planned flotation on the Singapore stockmarket.
The three buyers include BlackRock, an American multinational investment corporation. The deal cuts CVC’s stake in Formula One from about 60% to 40%. The two other investors are the asset manager Waddell & Reed and Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management, the asset management unit of the Norwegian central bank, known as Norges Bank. Whoever ends up owning Formula One will be unwilling to change what has been an outrageously successful product. But a management board could be formed with various teams being given seats on that board.
It is unlikely, however, that the commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, will relinquish control, even though he will be 82 this year. Ecclestone has shown no sign that his appetite for the job is on the wane and – however strange some of his utterances have become – he remains a formidable deal-maker.
The valuation of F1 at .5bn, however, is only as things stand. And without Mercedes, one of its biggest players, that would change substantially. Mercedes is the only major team not to have concluded a new Concorde Agreement and there has been speculation that they could walk away from F1 unless the matter is resolved.
The Mercedes chief executive, Nick Fry, said during the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona this month: “If CVC wish to float F1, I think they need this resolved fairly quickly – possibly more than we need it resolved. Discussions continue but progress is not as strong as I would like.
“F1 definitely would be much the poorer if Mercedes was not a participant and I am completely convinced in my mind that, if CVC wish to sell some or all of F1, the value they can derive from that would be severely diminished if Mercedes was not a participant.”
Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton has been told by his McLaren team principal that he deserves to win the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. It would be his second F1 victory at the sport’s most famous venue and, if he succeeds, it will be the first time six successive races have been won by different drivers. Hamilton, arguably, has been the best driver this year but has suffered misfortune in each of the opening five races of the campaign.
Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, said on Tuesday: “Lewis is in that frame of mind and he deserves it [to win]. No doubt about it. So we have to work hard to make sure he has a good car, that we don’t make any mistakes and he is in a position to fulfil his potential at a circuit where he would like to win again.
“We go into Monaco, somewhere where we’ve been very strong, we’ve won more grands prix there than anyone else, and we go there with the belief we can win. But anyone who makes predictions at the moment in this sport would be nuts. It is virtually impossible.
“Five races in, we’ve had five different winners, five different constructors. After Monaco it could be six races, six different winners, but I hope not six different constructors. I hope we can take that one but we will see.” McLaren are the most successful team in Monaco history, winning 15 grands prix there.