Liberty Media, an American interest in sports and entertainment investment company, Formula One's purchase. Liberty Media Corp, a 75-year-old tycoon is controlled by John Malone, yesterday's deal with the auto racing series has ended years of uncertainty about ownership.
The deal, which has an enterprise value of $8 billion according to a company statement, heralds a new era for Formula One, a European-dominated sport that has long sought to break into the U.S. market and win fresh audiences.
It could also accelerate the exit of 85-year-old Bernie Ecclestone, the Briton who has run the sport for nearly 40 years and built up a business with annual turnover of around $1.9 billion.
Liberty Media said in a statement, which ended a long-running saga surrounding the sport’s ownership and potential flotation, that it was acquiring an initial 18.7 percent stake from controlling shareholder CVC Capital Partners.
Ecclestone has been the deal-maker, securing lucrative television contracts and hosting fees with countries such as Abu Dhabi and Azerbaijan that are eager to feature on what is now a calendar with a record 21 races.
F1's biggest current shareholder, investment fund CVC Capital Partners, and the other sellers will still own 65 per cent of Formula One Group stock, and retain board representation. But CVC, which first invested in F1 in 2005, is ceding control of the sport to Malone's Liberty, which has all the voting shares.
The company says the deal values Formula One at USD 8 billion, including debt.
Malone also owns Major League Baseball team Atlanta Braves and has stakes in radio company Sirius XM and European telecom company Liberty Global, US cable company Charter and various cable-TV companies.
"There's lots of new things we are going to have to start putting into place, bringing them up to speed … I am very, very happy that they can come in and do things (for the sport)," Ecclestone told The Associated Press.
Ecclestone is optimistic Liberty has the resources, expertise and outlook to drive the growth of F1, particularly in the United States.
"I hope they do a lot because they are American and have had dealings in television in America for a long time," Ecclestone said.
"They have dealings with a lot of sponsors because of their TV networks and social media which we haven't done (as much) in the past."
Game after a five year absence returned to the US in 2012, the Austin race under existing deals with hosting.