February 28, 2021

European Lawmakers Expand Power of Central Bank

BRUSSELS — European Union legislators on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a law that puts about 150 of the euro zone’s largest banks under the scrutiny of the European Central Bank.

The vote on the legislation, which contains provisions that would give the European Parliament greater oversight of the E.C.B. when the bank assumes its newly won authority, is an important but not final step in a winding process that began in early 2012, during one of the most fevered periods in the euro zone financial crisis.

On the heels of the approval, the so-called Single Supervisory Mechanism is expected to start work during the autumn of 2014 after the European Central Bank conducts a “stress test” on the lenders coming under its aegis. European Union governments still must give the law one final approval though that is expected to be a formality.

The idea is that the central bank would do a better job than national supervisors of nipping financial problems in the bud so that governments do not need to resort to bank bailouts that destabilize the euro and penalize taxpayers.

The approval also was the first step in a multistage process toward a broader, pan-European vision of banking being referred to as a banking union. The next stage of that effort — creation of a single system for shutting down or restructuring banks — is under way. But progress has been slowed by the reluctance of Germany to commit to a unified banking system that could lead to euro zone member nations being responsible for one another’s debts.

Even so, Thursday’s approval was among the “most important votes of this parliamentary term,” Michel Barnier, the European Union commissioner overseeing financial services, told lawmakers after the vote. The law will help to “improve and restore confidence our citizens have in our system, as well as the confidence of the rest of the world in our system,” he said.

Lawmakers had delayed the vote, originally scheduled for Tuesday, amid demands for more power to oversee the central bank.

The approval came only after the president of the Parliament, Martin Schulz, told members that Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, had agreed to “strong parliamentary oversight” resulting in “a high degree of accountability.”

The Parliament said the central bank had agreed to share detailed records of meetings of the bank supervisory board.

The European Parliament also would share power with European Union governments over the selection of the head and the deputy head of the supervisory board. And the Parliament’s influential economic and monetary affairs committee would have the right to summon the supervisory board’s head for hearings.

The demands by the Parliament, the democratically elected arm of the European Union, were signs of its growing assertiveness.

The new Single Supervisory Mechanism will be compulsory for banks operating in the euro area. European Union countries that are not part of the single currency bloc can still opt to put their banks under the system.

The lawmakers, meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted 559 in favor of making the central bank the single supervisor. Sixty-two members voted against the measure and 19 abstained.

In a separate development on Thursday, a senior European Union court official said in an opinion that one of the rules devised by E.U. officials to stem the euro crisis should be rolled back.

Niilo Jaaskinen, an advocate-general at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, said the agency based in Paris that oversees the European Union’s financial markets should not be allowed to ban short-selling in any member state. The British government had challenged the rules, saying they went beyond the jurisdiction of the European Securities and Markets Authority.

Opinions handed down by advocates-general are not binding on judges. But judges do follow the advice in a majority of cases when they make a definitive ruling several months later.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/business/global/european-lawmakers-expand-power-of-central-bank.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Wealth Matters: From a Prominent Divorce in the Affluent Class, Lessons for All

Over the years, I’ve tried to avoid writing about big money divorces like this. I’ve just been a bit prudish about something that is at best sad and at worst tragic. I always think of the children. But there is certainly plenty of practical advice to be gleaned from such an emotional issue, which is why lawyers and financial planners should tune in to the salacious gossip.

What little is known — or can be logically assumed — about the Murdoch divorce provides lessons for people with far less money.

There are at least four areas in the Murdoch divorce that other affluent people need to consider if they find themselves served with divorce papers.

AGREEMENTS In the Murdoch case, there is reportedly a prenuptial agreement and two postnuptial agreements that modify the original contract.

Ilan Hirschfeld, national leader of the marital dissolution practice group at Marcum, an accounting firm, said postnuptial agreements generally solidify the prenuptial agreement and make the separation of assets cleaner. But if there is only a prenuptial agreement and it is very old, he would use forensic accounting to challenge it.

“If I’m representing the Mrs. and she’s not happy because her husband is making 10 times what he was making in the beginning, I’ll go back and say, ‘Did you disclose all the assets?’ or ‘Was she properly represented?’ ” he said.

David Aronson, a founding partner of Aronson, Mayefsky Sloan, took the opposite position. He said people who entered into prenuptial agreements lightly or without proper counsel could be sorely disappointed.

“Prenuptial agreements are routinely enforced in New York, even if they appear to be bad deals,” he said, adding that the few recent cases in which they were overturned were “still exceptions to the rule.”

One type of prenuptial agreement that could draw more scrutiny, Mr. Aronson said, is one drawn up to protect the earnings of the higher-earning spouse when both people were younger. “That’s a very bad deal for the spouse who is never going to earn a lot of money,” he said.

ASSETS Dividing assets between spouses is rarely as simple as deciding to split it 50-50 — or even 60-40. A lot depends on what kinds of assets are involved.

Appraisers and lawyers draw a distinction between passive and active assets. A passive asset would be a house or a stock portfolio, but not all of them can be parceled out.

Jason M. Katz, a private wealth adviser at UBS Wealth Management, said a municipal bond portfolio could be tricky to divide without slighting one spouse because bonds have different maturities and credit quality.

More difficult are investments in hedge funds and private equity. He said couples would have to wait until the next withdrawal period to get their money from a hedge fund, but with private equity they did not have the same option and could be in it for years, depending on how long the fund holds on to its investments. A way around this could involve one spouse trading away rights to it for something else, like a beach house.

A business, on the other hand, is an active investment, and the percentage a spouse is entitled to depends on how much he or she contributed to the business.

In the case of anyone who enters a marriage with an existing business, as Mr. Murdoch did with News Corporation, the calculation of what percentage of the business Mrs. Murdoch could be owed starts on the day they were married and ends with the value of the company on the day they filed for divorce. This is tricky: She traveled with Mr. Murdoch on business, particularly to her native China, and famously smacked a guy trying to throw a pie in his face. But what could she or any one person contribute to the success of a global company like News Corporation?

The calculation changes if the business was started while the couple was married. Mr. Hirchfeld said that a spouse of a business owner who stayed home and raised the children is generally awarded somewhere between 30 to 35 percent of the business.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/10/your-money/from-a-divorce-in-the-affluent-class-lessons-for-all.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Eni Scrambles to Contain Damage From Inquiry

ROME — Eni, the Italian oil giant, was scrambling Friday to contain the fallout from the investigation of alleged corruption at its oil services subsidiary Saipem.

Milan prosecutors said late Thursday that they had expanded their inquiry into allegedly suspicious payments in Algeria involving Saipem to include Eni itself and its chief executive, Paolo Scaroni.

Investigators have searched Mr. Scaroni’s home in Milan and his offices in Rome and Milan. Prosecutors now have eight people, most of them former Saipem executives, under investigation, according to people who have seen the court documents.

Mr. Scaroni said by telephone Friday that he believed he came into the prosecutors’ sights because of a meeting he held in late 2007 at a Paris hotel with Chakib Khelil, who was then the Algerian minister of energy and mines. Mr. Khelil was accompanied by a personal secretary named Farid Bedjaoui, who was allegedly a conduit for money from Saipem, according to people who have seen the court documents.

Mr. Scaroni said that he had met often with Mr. Khelil but denied that he ever sought favors for Saipem from the Algerian or anyone else.

“What is certainly sure is I never spoke to either Khelil or any other minister about Saipem,” he said. Neither Mr. Bedjaoui nor Mr. Khelil could be reached for comment. There is no suggestion that Mr. Khelil is under investigation.

Eni denied on Thursday that it or its directors had any involvement in any corruption in Algeria.

“Eni and its C.E.O. declare themselves totally unrelated to the object of investigation,” the company said.

Under scrutiny are about €200 million, or $268 million, in payments on Algerian contracts won by Saipem, which provides drilling, engineering and construction services. The inquiry started at least two years ago, and Algerian investigators are working closely with their Italian counterparts, according to Eni.

The investigation has weighed heavily on Saipem’s share price and is now casting a cloud over the top management of Eni, which had been reveling in its recent success in finding new energy reserves, particularly giant natural gas discoveries in Mozambique over the past two years.

The investigation threatens to expose an unsavory side of a decades-old tightly intertwined relationship between Algeria and Sonatrach, its national oil company, and the Italian government and energy companies. Eni is the largest oil and gas producer in the North African country, and it separately buys an additional €7 billion to €8 billion worth of gas each year from Algeria. Algeria supplies about 30 percent of Italy’s gas.

Saipem had been a dominant player in Algeria, building gas pipelines and other elements of energy-industry infrastructure, including the Medgaz undersea pipeline from Algeria to Spain. People familiar with the investigation say that in 2007 Saipem had agreed to pay a Dubai company a percentage of the value of the contracts Saipem won in Algeria. Prosecutors say the company won more than $10 billion in contracts in the country in the late 2000s.

A spokesman for Saipem declined to comment.

When Mr. Scaroni learned of this deal and the payments in November, he said, he thought the arrangement was inappropriate because Saipem’s board had not been informed. On Dec. 3 he wrote a letter to Saipem’s chairman, Alberto Meomartini, suggesting that the Saipem board consider various emergency steps, including replacing the chief executive, possibly with Umberto Vergine, an Eni executive.

Two days later, Pietro Franco Tali resigned as Saipem’s chief executive. At the same time, Eni’s chief financial officer, Alessandro Bernini, who had held the same post at Saipem, resigned. Mr. Tali was replaced by Mr. Vergine. Saipem said on Jan. 29 that Mr. Tali was under investigation.

Mr. Scaroni dismissed a question about whether he regretted not supervising Saipem more closely, saying that Eni took a hands-off approach to avoid scaring off Saipem’s other clients, which include most of the big oil companies.

“We always felt that if we were too close to Saipem then Saipem would have lost clients,” Mr. Scaroni said.

It will not be easy for Eni to distance itself from Saipem.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/business/global/eni-scrambles-to-contain-damage-from-inquiry.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

5-Hour Energy’s ‘No Crash Later’ Claim Is Disputed

But an advertising watchdog group said on Wednesday that it had told the company five years ago that the claim was unfounded and had urged it then to stop making it.

An executive of the group, the National Advertising Division, also said that 5-Hour Energy’s distributor, Living Essentials, had publicly misrepresented the organization’s position about the claim and that it planned to start a review that could lead to action against the company by the Federal Trade Commission.

“We recommended that the ‘no crash’ claim be discontinued because their own evidence showed there was a crash from the product,” said Andrea C. Levine, director the National Advertising Division. The organization, which is affiliated with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, reviews ad claims for accuracy.

The emerging dispute between Living Essentials and the National Advertising Division is unusual because the $10 billion energy drink industry is rife with questionable marketing. And Living Essentials, which recently cited the advertising group’s support in seeking to defend the “no crash” claim, may have opened the door to greater scrutiny.

Major producers like 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy all say their products contain proprietary blends of ingredients that provide a range of mental and physical benefits. But the companies have conducted few studies to show that the costly products provide anything more than a blast of caffeine, a stimulant found in beverages like coffee, tea or cola-flavored sodas.

The dispute over 5-Hour Energy’s claim also comes as regulatory review of the high-caffeine drinks is increasing. The Food and Drug Administration recently disclosed that it had received reports over the last four years citing the possible role of 5-Hour Energy in 15 deaths. The mention of a product in an F.D.A. report does not mean it caused a death or injury. Living Essentials says it knows of no problems related to its products.

The issue surrounding the company’s “no crash” claim dates to 2007, when National Advertising Division began reviewing all of 5-Hour Energy’s marketing claims. That same year, the company conducted a clinical trial of the energy shot that compared it to Red Bull and Monster Energy.

At the time, Living Essentials was already using the “No crash later” claim. An article on Wednesday in The New York Times reported that the study had shown that 24 percent of those who used 5-Hour Energy suffered a “moderately severe” crash hours after consuming it. The study reported higher crash rates for Red Bull and Monster Energy.

When asked how those findings squared with the company’s “no crash” claim, Elaine Lutz, a spokeswoman for Living Essentials, said the company had amended the claim after the 2007 review by the National Advertising Division. In doing so, it added an asterisklike mark after the claim on product labels and in promotions. The mark referred to additional labeling language stating that “no crash means no sugar crash.” Unlike Red Bull and Monster Energy, 5-Hour Energy does not contain sugar.

Ms. Lutz said that based on the modification, the advertising accuracy group “found all of our claims to be substantiated.”

However, Ms. Levine, the advertising group’s director, took sharp exception to that assertion, saying it mischaracterized the group’s decision. And a review of the reports suggested that Living Essentials had simply added language of its choosing to its label rather than doing what the group had recommended — drop the “no crash” claim altogether.

That review concluded that the company’s 2007 study had shown there was evidence to support a “qualified claim that 5-Hour Energy results in less of a crash than Red Bull and Monster” Energy. But it added the study, which showed that 5-Hour Energy users experienced caffeine-related crashes, was inadequate to support a “no crash” claim.

Ms. Levine said Living Essentials had apparently decided to use the parts of the group’s report that it liked and ignore others.

Companies “are not permitted to mischaracterize our decisions or misuse them for commercial purposes,” she said.

She said the group planned to notify Living Essentials that it was reopening its review of the “no crash later” claim. If the company fails to respond or provides an inadequate response, the National Advertising Division will probably refer the matter to the F.T.C., she said.

A Democratic lawmaker, Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, has asked that the agency review energy drink marketing claims.

Asked about the position of the National Advertising Division, Ms. Lutz, the 5-Hour Energy spokeswoman, stated in an e-mail that the “no sugar crash” language had been added to address the group’s concern.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/business/5-hour-energys-no-crash-later-claim-is-disputed.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: YouTube Turns More TV-Like, and Scrutiny for Netflix Over Facebook Post

YouTube began introducing a redesigned Web site on Thursday that even more resembles television by prominently highlighting its “channels,” Claire Cain Miller writes, that is, series of videos by the same creator, whether a friend, a celebrity, or a professional producer like ESPN or PBS. With the redesign, every time you visit YouTube on any device, you will see the latest videos from the channels to which you subscribe. The goal, she writes, is to make YouTube a destination for entertainment, rather than someplace you visit when you receive a link or search for a certain video.

The Washington Post reported that it would probably start charging online readers for access to newspapers articles, probably by the middle of next year. The plan would be similar to the model used by The New York Times, in that readers would only be blocked once they had surpassed a certain number of articles or multimedia features a month. Home subscribers to the print edition would have unfettered access to The Post’s Web site and other digital products. The Post credited a report by The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering taking action against Netflix and its chief executive, Reed Hastings, the company disclosed on Thursday, over a brief post he made to Facebook in July about a corporate milestone — one billion hours of video that subscribers watched the month before. The agency, in a so-called Wells notice, warned that it might file civil claims or seek a cease-and-desist order, Michael de la Merced reported.

  • The idea behind notice is to ensure that a company announces information that is material to its business to all investors at the same time; typically, a company uses a news release to share such information. Mr. Hastings’s main defense will probably be that the age of social media has redefined the concept of public disclosure, Mr. de la Merced writes. His Facebook feed is public, and the information reached his 200,000 followers, and then soon the news media.

Robert Lescher, who epitomized the courtly, largely invisible ideal of an Old World author’s agent, died on Nov. 28 at 83, Paul Vitello reports. Among his clients were Robert Frost, Alice B. Toklas and Isaac Bashevis Singer. When, after long representing himself, Mr. Singer asked Mr. Lescher to be his agent, according to Al Silverman in “The Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Book Publishers” (2008), Mr. Lescher asked him why he thought he needed an agent: “You know, in the old days, when I wanted to reach Mr. Straus,” Mr. Singer said, referring to Roger Straus of Farrar, Straus Giroux, “I’d call him and he took my call. Now, I call and the secretary says, ‘He’s on the phone with Mr. Solzhenitsyn.’ ”


Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/the-breakfast-meeting-youtube-turns-more-tv-like-and-scrutiny-for-netflix-over-facebook-post/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Tuesday Reading: Job Loss Increases Risk of Heart Attack

November 27

Tuesday Reading: Job Loss Increases Risk of Heart Attack

Job loss increases the risk of heart attack, the mortgage interest deduction is under scrutiny, how to avoid counterfeit money while traveling and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/tuesday-reading-job-loss-increases-risk-of-heart-attack/?partner=rss&emc=rss

2011: The Year of the Turndown

Real estate brokers, lawyers and property managers all said boards had significantly stepped up their financial scrutiny of prospective buyers in the last year. Condo boards technically cannot reject prospective buyers, but brokers say some condo and co-op boards now use delaying tactics and requests for further documentation as a strategy to drive away certain buyers.

It was a year in which many real estate rules seemed to have been turned on their heads. Condos behaved like co-ops. Buyers with mortgages were looked at more favorably than all-cash buyers. Why? The reasoning goes that since mortgages are so hard to come by, anyone who gets one has been thoroughly vetted by the bank.

It also became much more common for buildings — co-ops and condos alike — to ask buyers to put large sums of money in escrow as a way of guaranteeing that they would not default on their monthly carrying charges.

Many buildings asked buyers to put six months’ to two years’ worth of maintenance into escrow. But brokers also said that in these uncertain financial times, some buildings had asked for escrow of as much as 10 years’ worth of maintenance. “That sounds to me like a nice way of saying goodbye,” said Paul Gottsegen, the director of Halstead Management, which manages more than 200 buildings.

One such case was handled by Warburg Realty. Frederick Peters, Warburg’s president, said the amount requested for escrow, which was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, “seemed crazy to me,” but the buyers agreed and the deal went through.

Mr. Peters said he did not know why the board had been so concerned about the buyers. “We don’t get to ask those questions,” he said, adding that the buyers were a young married couple with parental guarantors who were “very financially solid.”

Mr. Peters said Warburg used to see only a few such deals in a given year, but handled more than 20 in 2011. “That’s a lot of deals,” he said. “But if escrow is a way for a board to get comfortable with a buyer, I’d much rather have that than a board turndown.”

Steven D. Sladkus, a Manhattan co-op and condo lawyer, says most buyers who have the wherewithal will agree to escrow accounts, “because it’s still their money and in most cases, they’ll get it all back if they pay faithfully for a year or two years.” In some cases, though, buildings ask to maintain the escrow indefinitely.

But Jessica Cohen, an executive vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman, says some buyers take offense when they get an escrow request. “They see it as the board considering them unfit to buy without an insurance policy,” she said.

Ms. Cohen estimated that about a third of her deals last year involved an escrow request, so she now routinely mentions the possibility to all her buyers. “It’s better to let them know it’s a possibility rather than have it come up as a surprise at the point of a board approval and risk having the deal fall apart,” she said.

Brokers and property managers said that these days, deals that used to take a month can take two to three months, as boards request a second or third year’s worth of tax returns and other financial documents or an escrow account. Boards have also become much more selective in other ways.

“People that would have passed boards two years ago, offering to pay all cash, aren’t passing now,” said Leslie Modell Rosenthal, a managing director at Warburg. Some condos now frown on investors, she said, even though that category of buyer has helped sustain condos for years. Other buildings that routinely approved purchases involving parental guarantors are no longer doing so.

“Even if there isn’t an outright rejection,” Ms. Modell Rosenthal said, “some boards will drag their feet to the point where the buyer gives up and goes away.” Boards are not required to give their reasons for turning down an applicant, but brokers say it is often because they feel he or she has too much debt, not enough liquidity or not enough of a job history.

Although some high-priced exclusive buildings have sought buyers with liquid assets of two to three times the purchase price of an apartment, buildings have typically expected them to have about two years’ worth of mortgage and maintenance in liquid assets, or $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the size of the apartment. But today, brokers say, many more buildings want buyers to have several hundred thousand dollars in liquid assets.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f9cae65f7559dfb716ab82e7f5a9ae59

Bits Blog: Clearwire Gets Some Help From Sprint

Clearwire, a troubled wireless company, will be getting some help from Sprint Nextel, the country’s third-largest cellphone carrier. The companies said Thursday that Sprint would pledge as much as $1.6 billion over the next four years so Clearwire can expand its network.

The partnership will enable Clearwire to upgrade its network to a faster, next-generation standard called Long Term Evolution. In exchange, Sprint will have access to Clearwire’s networks to sell services to its own customers.

Sprint has been Clearwire’s largest investor, and already resells Clearwire’s network service as Sprint service in 71 markets across the United States.

“Today’s announcement further cements the mutually beneficial relationship between our two companies,” Erik Prusch, president and chief executive of Clearwire, said in a statement.

Clearwire has primarily offered cellphone service through a network technology called WiMax, which promises to deliver Internet speeds as fast as the broadband connections used to surf the Web on computers. The company has faced scrutiny in the last year as customers filed a lawsuit alleging that Clearwire was deliberately slowing down its service to increase its profits. Clearwire later admitted it “throttled” its network, but said it was only to relieve congestion.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=13309715dbca40373fcda2eceba27a37

Bucks: Friday Reading: A New App Helps Used-Car Buyers

May 20

Friday Reading: A New App Helps Used-Car Buyers

A new app helps used-car buyers, more scrutiny for health insurance increases, attacking spam and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=144a7e1be2405ebd9032f25f84357769

Motorsports: News Corp. Considering Bid for Formula One

PARIS — An announcement that the media giant News Corp. and the Agnelli family of Italy are considering bidding for control of Formula One auto racing has fired the starting gun for potentially complex and protracted negotiations over the future organization of the sport.

The two went public with a joint statement, saying they were “in the early stages of exploring the possibility of creating a consortium” to buy Formula One from CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in London.

Such a bid, analysts said Thursday, would prompt close scrutiny from regulators, as well as raising questions among broadcasters, Formula One team owners and sponsors. A takeover would give companies with important vested interests ownership of Formula One, ending the current arm’s-length relationships among these players.

Exor, the Agnelli holding company, is the indirect owner of Ferrari, the most prestigious team in Formula One, a potential concern for rival team owners.

Meanwhile, News Corp. is a major television company in many of Formula One’s biggest markets in Europe and Asia. But it mostly operates pay-TV systems, while Formula One participants have pledged to appear on free television, where sponsors can reach the largest audiences.

“I can’t see how they could take over without changing fundamentally how the sport is run,” Nigel Currie, director of BrandRapport, a sponsorship agency in England, said Thursday. “The whole basis of sport is that there is a rights holder who sorts out the broadcasting deals, the sponsorships, the merchandising, everything else associated with it.”

CVC is sending out the message that Formula One could be sold, but only if the price is right.

“The ‘for sale’ sign is not being deliberately hung out,” said a person with knowledge of the approach who was not permitted to speak publicly, “but no one’s shutting the door in their face, either.”

In its own carefully worded statement, CVC confirmed the approach and recognized the “quality” of the two potential investors. It added: “Any investment in Formula One will require CVC’s agreement and will need to demonstrate that it is in the interest of the sport and its stakeholders, taken as a whole.”

Joe Saward, a blogger and journalist who has followed motor racing for 27 years thought the message was clear.

“Let’s face it, the sport is for sale,” he said. “It is just a question of someone coming up with the right price to send CVC away.”

CVC paid an estimated £1.8 billion, or $3 billion, to buy its majority stake in 2006 from Bernie Ecclestone, Bayerische Landesbank and J.P. Morgan. Mr. Ecclestone retains a minority share and is chief executive of Formula One.

That deal was approved by the European Commission, subject to CVC’s divesting its interest in Dorna Sports, which held commercial rights for the world motorcycling championship MotoGP.

Neither side has placed a current value on the rights.

News Corp. and Exor are in contact with a range of other potential investors, including banks, to join their bid. By involving others, they might be looking to pre-empt regulatory concerns.

“They would not have a problem raising the money,” said a person who has worked on the Italian end of the bid. “Quite a lot of work’s already been done on this.”

Formula One’s lucrative broadcast rights fall under what is known as the Concorde Agreement, a commercial arrangement involving the racing teams, CVC and the governing body of auto racing, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. The details of the deal were not made public.

This deal stipulates that in countries with the biggest audiences, free-to-air television stations must hold broadcast rights. That agreement runs out at the end of 2012, and the signatories are in the process of negotiating a new one.

In Britain, for example, the BBC has the broadcasting rights and television companies controlled by News Corp. are not currently free-to-air. In France, a free, commercial broadcaster, TF1, holds the live race rights.

News reports indicated that representatives from Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes would meet May 14 in Stuttgart for talks on the sport.

“We are not directly involved at the moment,” Ferrari said in a statement on its Web site. “Ferrari stresses the importance of ensuring the long-term stability and development of Formula One.”

The possible bid was the brainchild of James Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp.’s international operations, and John Elkann, who runs Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family. The two have known each other for some years and have a good relationship, according two people who have worked on the deal.

Exor owns 30.5 percent of Fiat, which in turn owns Ferrari. Last year, Mr. Elkann was confirmed as Fiat’s chairman. He is the grandson of the former chairman and patriarch of the Italian family, Giovanni Agnelli, who died in 2003.

Exor also has significant holdings in a range of companies in financial services, real estate, component makers and paper, as well as 60 percent of the Juventus soccer team in Turin.

Eric Pfanner contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7647e89da2130c3758d9b0dfe971dac6