The American group Liberty Media has confirmed it has agreed to purchase Formula One in a $8b deal, with an initial investment already completed.
Former majority stakeholder CVC Capital has led a sale of the sport including that of several minority investors, which will see a new era for the sport after 10 years of ownership. While Bernie Ecclestone will retain his job as Chief Executive, at least for the ‘next two to three years’, a new chairman has been appointed in the form of American Chase Carey.
The initial investment of 18.1% has been completed, totalling $746m in cash, this will be increased over the next few months to owning 100% of the shares in the sports parent company Delta Topco, which will be renamed ‘Formula One Group’.
Greg Maffei, President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Media, said: “We are excited to become part of Formula One. 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, Chairman of Formula One, said: “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. 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.”
Bernie Ecclestone, Chief Executive Officer of Formula One, said: “I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them.”
Donald Mackenzie, Co-Chairman of CVC, commented: “We are delighted Chase Carey is joining Formula One as its new Chairman and that he will be working alongside Bernie Ecclestone. Chase’s experience and knowledge of sport, media and entertainment is as good as it gets and we are very pleased to secure his services. Bernie has been a wonderful CEO for us over the last 10 years. There have been many successes and the occasional challenge but there has never been a dull moment and we have had a lot of fun. The combined skills of Chase and Bernie mean that the successes should continue and we wish them well. We would like to thank Peter Brabeck-Letmathe for his outstanding contribution during his tenure as Chairman. His leadership has served the company well, and we are pleased that he will remain on the board as a non-executive director.”
Teams will also have an opportunity to buy a stake in the sport, which will be open to all and not just the manufacturers so the likes of Sauber, Force India and Manor will have an equal footing to Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault.
Now owned by a media company, eyes will be upon the sport to see if they can adapt to the new digital world we live in, something which they have struggled over the last few years. Only as recently as last year Bernie Ecclestone dismissed the merits of social media sighting the older demographic of the Formula One audience. The challenge will be to attract a younger audience who are already entrenched in these different non-traditional platforms.