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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Hutchison 'could buy Formula One'
Formula One impresario Bernie Ecclestone
Hutchison is said to be keen to win over Bernie Ecclestone
Hutchison, which owns the UK's 3 mobile network, is reported to be preparing to buy Formula One for about $1bn (575m).

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One tycoon, confirmed on Sunday that he had been approached by the Hong Kong firm.

He told the Press Association: "One guy came to see me and I put him in touch with the people that own the shares - the (three) banks."

Hutchison could buy the banks' 75% stake in holding company Slec without his say-so, but it wants his support.

Hutchison's media unit, Tom Group, is reported to have met the three banks that own 75% of Slec, the ultimate holding company for the sport.

Tom is said to want Mr Ecclestone's approval, before making a bid, because of his influence over the sport. Mr Ecclestone also owns 25% of Slec.

But Mr Ecclestone told PA that he would not welcome a Hutchison deal and said: "Why do I want to change the shareholders we've got for shareholders we don't know?"

Commercial rights

In March, the three banks that own Slec - JP Morgan, Bayerische Landesbank and Lehman Brothers - managed to gain a greater say over the running of the Formula One operating companies, giving them more control over commercial rights to the sport.

Previously, although the three owned a majority of Slec between them, Mr Ecclestone often had more influence in how the rights were managed.

A banking source quoted in the Sunday Telegraph said: "Hutchison... sees great potential for Formula One in Asia and it is now spending a lot of time cosying up to Bernie [Ecclestone].

"The banks are quite happy to sell out."

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