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Added September 12th, 2016 by Ian

Formula 1 sold for $4.4 billion

The Formula 1 racing business has been sold to an American company called Liberty Media with reports stating that the sale price is $4.4 billion. If the number is accurate, the amount will eclipse the recent sale of the UFC which went for a world record $4 billion for a sports franchise. The chief executive of Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone, will keep his position, but Chase Carey will be the company’s new chairman. Carey is also the vice-chairman of the 21st Century Fox firm. This isn’t the first venture into professional sports for Liberty media as the company also has a stake in the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball.

Billionaire John Malone is the owner of Liberty Media and he has to buy a minority stake in Formula 1 before taking it over. However, the sale still needs to be approved by European regulators. Formula 1 has been valued at $8 billion, but the company also has approximately $4.1 billion worth of debt, which will also be taken care of by Liberty Media with Liberty’s stake coming from CVC Capital, which is a private equity company. CVC sold some of its shares in Formula 1 in 2012, but has owned a large stake of the racing business for the past 10 years.

Formula 1 racing has seen its television ratings fall across the globe recently and CVC was slammed for taking a considerable amount of the racing profits. But overall, the motorsports outfit has grown tremendously under Ecclestone over the past decade. Liberty Media is hoping to regain its television audience as well as increase the sport’s popularity through social media platforms as well as promotional and marketing campaigns. The new owners will first focus on gaining fans and popularity in North America. This is because the sporting scene is seen as being hugely competitive there, especially for the younger generation of fans.

Formula 1 races are also viewed by many fans as being quite predictable and this has seen them take their sporting interests elsewhere. It’s believed that many racing insiders are happy to see CVC sell its stake in the business and it looks like the 85-year-old Ecclestone of Britain will probably retire after three more years at the most, after 40 years at the helm. Greg Maffei, who is Liberty Media’s chief executive, told the media, “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.”

 
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