Days after the Italian Grand Prix race in northern Monza, CVC Capital Partners is reportedly nearing a deal to sell a significant stake in the Formula One Group to John Malone's Liberty Media (LMCB) .
A spokesperson for CVC declined to comment on press reports that the buyout shop is in advanced talks with Liberty Media, while a Liberty Media spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The Financial Times on Monday reported that the deal under discussion would value the F1 holding company at $8 billion to $9 billion, and that an announcement could come within the next couple of weeks.
People briefed on the talks told the newspaper that Liberty plans to take a 10% to 15% in Formula One, with an agreement to take full control of the business later.
Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's billionaire CEO and the public face of the sport, added to the excitement over an imminent deal. On the sidelines of Saturday's race, the 85-year-old told German trade magazine Auto Motor Und Sport that Liberty Media will transfer the first of two payment tranches on Tuesday.
CVC currently owns 35.1% of F1, while Ecclestone reportedly holds 5.3% and another 8.5% through the Bambino Trust Ecclestone set up of his ex-wife and daughters -- albeit without any voting rights.
It's not clear what Ecclestone's future role would be if there is an ownership change. "I will do, what I've always done," he told Auto Motor Und Sport, playing his cards close to his chest. Asked by the magazine whether he will continue to remain the public race of motor racing, he replied, "We will see."
Chase Carey, the executive vice-chairman of Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox (FPX - Get Report) , is expected to be installed as new chairman of F1, succeeding Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, an Austrian businessman who served as CEO of Swiss food group Nestlé from 1997 to 2007 and currently chairs its board.
Any change in ownership would reportedly need approval of motor racing's governing body, the Féderation Internationale de l'Automobile.
Malone's Englewood, Col.-based Liberty Media has been itching to get its hands on F1 for some time.
In 2014 it held talks with CVC about a possible sale of its stake, and reportedly came close to buying a 49% stake through London-based Liberty Global (LBTYK) , part of the Liberty Media empire, and Discovery Communications (DISCA - Get Report) .
CVC bought F1 in 2006 for $3.5 billion but reduced its stake to below 50% in 2012 when it sold 28 for $16 billion to three fund managers - Waddell & Reed Financial (WDR - Get Report) , BlackRock (BLK - Get Report) and Norges Bank Investment Management, manager of the Norwegian government global pension fund.
The deal to the consortium turned out to be a wise move, since CVC was forced to later cancel planned listing on the Singapore Stock Exchange amid poor markets and Eccelstone's legal troubles, linked to a corruption scandal at Bavarian state lender BayernLB.
CVC has not made another attempt at an IPO after two aborted tries in 2012 and 2013.