Liberty Media in $4.4billion takeover of Formula 1

Nico Rosberg - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Liberty Media, a United States-based firm headed by media tycoon John Malone, have confirmed that they are in the process of purchasing Formula 1 in a deal said to be worth in excess of $4.4billion.

The deal will see CVC Capital Partners, who have owned the championship since 2005, remain with a percentage of the Liberty Media Group shares, but will not have any control of voting shares.

Liberty Media already have sporting interests in the United States with the Atlanta Braves baseball team and in satellite radio in the form of Sirius XM, and the first portion of the deal to take over Formula 1 will gain them an 18.7 percent stake, while the rest to be handed over when the deal gets closed off either later this year or early next.

They will pay $1.1 billion in cash, $138 million in Liberty Media shares and $351 million worth of an exchangeable debt instrument to be issued by Formula 1, while it will also take on $4.1 billion in Formula One’s current debt, meaning the total outlay for Liberty could be in excess of $8billion.

“We are excited to become part of Formula 1,” said Greg Maffei, President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Media.  “We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula One and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.

“We look forward to working closely with Chase Carey and Bernie Ecclestone to support the next phase of growth for this hugely popular global sport.”

Chase Carey, the executive vice president of 21st Century Fox, will take on the role of chairman of Formula 1, while Bernie Ecclestone will remain as CEO, at least for the foreseeable future.

“I greatly admire Formula One as a unique global sports entertainment franchise attracting hundreds of millions of fans each season from all around the world,” said Mr. Carey.

“I see great opportunity to help Formula One continue to develop and prosper for the benefit of the sport, fans, teams and investors alike.”

Mr Ecclestone has welcomed the news that Liberty Media are buying Formula 1, with the Formula 1 Supremo set for a $400million windfall with the investment as he relinquishes his own shares as part of the deal.

“I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them,” said Mr. Ecclestone.