NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Cable billionaire John Malone has held talks with European private equity house CVC Capital Partners over the possible purchase of its 35% stake in racing business Formula One, according to a source familiar with the situation, and has also reportedly shown an interest in a further 14% of the company.
Whether the talks are ongoing or how far they have progressed since the initial approach was made around Christmas is not clear, but no formal offer has been made and CVC is still looking at alternative options.
CVC is the largest shareholder, despite its minority position, and has been looking for an exit opportunity for some time, either via a float or a sale. Reports on Tuesday said that a sale could value F1 at more than $9 billion, including debt.
CVC began preparations for an exit on the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2012, but a combination of poor markets and the legal troubles of F1 founder Bernie Ecclestone forced it to put the listing on ice.
CVC also sold part of its stake in 2012 to a consortium of U.S. asset managers Waddell & Reed Financial (WDR) and BlackRock (BLK) as well as Norges Bank Investment Management, the manager of the Norwegian government global pension fund. The sale reduced CVC's stake to below 50% and helped it recoup money invested in the business when it bought F1 for $3.5 billion in 2005 and 2006.
Altogether, CVC has reportedly made 5 times its $1 billion equity investment.