“Lib­erty Me­dia can grow For­mula 1”

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Rob Lad­brook Pho­tos: LAT

For­mula 1’s lead­ing lights have wel­comed the sport’s sale to Amer­i­can firm Lib­erty Me­dia Cor­po­ra­tion, and be­lieve the deal can help grow the sport.

Lib­erty Me­dia an­nounced last week that it would ac­quire the con­trol­ling stake in For­mula 1 from CVC Cap­i­tal Part­ners in a deal es­ti­mated to be worth £6 bil­lion.

Lib­erty Me­dia will buy 100 per cent of the shares of F1’s par­ent com­pany Delta Topco, as well as a mi­nor­ity stake of 18.7 per cent. Once the deal is fully com­plete in the first quar­ter of 2017, Lib­erty Me­dia will own the con­trol­ling stake of 35.5 per cent, with CVC re­tain­ing a 24.7 per cent share.

The sale marks the first time F1 has changed hands for a decade. Lib­erty has con­firmed that Bernie Ec­cle­stone will re­main at the helm as chief ex­ec­u­tive for at least a fur­ther three years, and has ap­pointed Chase Carey into the role of chair­man of F1.

Lib­erty Me­dia al­ready boasts an im­pres­sive port­fo­lio of in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing stakes in the At­lanta Braves base­ball club, US cable TV firms and mu­sic events com­pany Live Na­tion. Carey is also the vice chair­man of 21st Cen­tury Fox.

Key mem­bers of the F1 pad­dock have wel­comed the deal. Force In­dia’s deputy team prin­ci­pal Bob Fern­ley said: “I think it’s fair to say I’ve been mildly crit­i­cal of CVC in the past, so there­fore a new part­ner is good.

“In CVC we’ve had a cor­po­ra­tion there that’s only been in­ter­ested in ex­tract­ing money. They’ve done what they’re sup­posed to do as a hedge fund, which is re­turned money to their share­hold­ers, and they’ve sold out now and po­si­tioned them­selves. Hope­fully they’ve sold to a com­pany that can cre­ate the growth in For­mula 1.

“When you bring in a me­dia group there is a ob­vi­ously a vested in­ter­est there in de­vel­op­ing the sport. It pays, then, on both sides. They will bring in a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence from the Amer­i­can sport­ing fran­chise mod­els and that can only be a good thing.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said prior to the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of the deal that he be­lieved F1 could learn from the way Amer­i­can com­pa­nies grow public in­ter­est in sport via so­cial me­dia.

“I don’t think any­body would buy that stake, spend that money and say ‘We’re not chang­ing ev­ery­thing – we’re do­ing it the Amer­i­can way’,” said Wolff.

“There are things we can learn from the Amer­i­can way, par­tic­u­larly the dig­i­tal area, but there are also ar­eas that are work­ing here that are not work­ing there. They are go­ing to have a close look and an­a­lyse what needs to change or re­main. There’s a rea­son these guys can af­ford to buy this. It’s good news that an Amer­i­can me­dia buys into For­mula 1.”

Lib­erty Me­dia pres­i­dent and boss Greg Maf­fei added: “We are ex­cited to be­come part of For­mula 1. We think our long-term per­spec­tive and ex­per­tise with me­dia and sports as­sets will al­low us to be good stew­ards of For­mula 1 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.”

For­mula 1 has been bought by Lib­erty Me­dia Corp

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