Liberty Media agrees to deal to buy Formula 1

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Liberty Media Corporation has confirmed it will purchase Formula 1 in a deal worth $8 billion that will see current CEO Bernie Ecclestone retain his position.

F1’s existing majority shareholder, CVC, has been looking to sell the series for some time, with Liberty – backed by American media tycoon John Malone – being mooted as a possible buyer for some time.

The first rumblings of the purchase taking place came over the Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza before Liberty Media confirmed its plans to purchase F1 in a statement on Wednesday.

“Liberty Media Corporation and CVC Capital Partners announced today that Liberty Media has agreed to acquire Formula One, the iconic global motorsports business, from a consortium of sellers led by CVC,” the statement reads.

“Liberty Media owns interests in a broad range of media, communications and entertainment businesses. Those interests are attributed to three tracking stock groups: the Liberty SiriusXM Group, the Liberty Braves Group, and the Liberty Media Group.

“The consideration comprises cash and newly issued shares in the Liberty Media Group tracking stock (LMCK) and a debt instrument exchangeable into shares of LMCK. The transaction price represents an enterprise value for Formula One of $8.0 billion and an equity value of $4.4 billion.

“The acquisition will be effected by Liberty Media acquiring 100% of the shares of Delta Topco, the parent company of Formula One. The acquisition is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions and is described in more detail below.

“Concurrent with the execution of the agreement to effect the acquisition, Liberty Media has completed the acquisition of an 18.7% minority stake in Formula One for $746 million, funded entirely in cash (which is equal to $821 million in consideration less a $75 million discount to be repaid by Liberty Media to selling stockholders upon completion of the acquisition). Prior to completion, CVC Funds will continue to be the controlling shareholder of Formula One.

“After completion of the acquisition, Liberty Media will own Formula One and it will be attributed to the Liberty Media Group which will be renamed the Formula One Group. The consortium of sellers led by CVC will own approximately 65% of the Formula One Group’s equity and will have board representation at Formula One to support Liberty Media in continuing to develop the full potential of the sport. In addition, a CVC representative will be joining the Liberty Media Board of Directors.

“Chase Carey has been appointed by Delta Topco and will serve as the new Chairman of Formula One, succeeding Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who will remain on Formula One’s board as a non-executive director. Bernie Ecclestone will remain Formula One’s CEO.”

“I am thrilled to take up the role of Chairman of Formula One and have the opportunity to work alongside Bernie Ecclestone, CVC, and the Liberty Media team,” Chase Carey said.

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

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

“The Teams will be given the opportunity to participate in the investment in Formula One, and the detailed terms of that investment will be agreed in due course,” the statement adds. “Certain teams have already expressed an interest in investing after completion of the acquisition.”

The statement also confirms that the deal is subject to consent from relevant third parties including the FIA, F1’s governing body. The acquisition is “expected to close by the first quarter of 2017”.