Liberty Media Group announced Wednesday it had reached an agreement with the owners of Formula One (F1) to buy the car racing business for an equity value of $4.4 billion. The deal, expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2017, confers an enterprise value of $8 billion on the global motorsport brand.
In a press release, Liberty Media said it had already acquired an 18.7 percent minority stake in F1 for $746 million from a consortium of sellers led by CVC Capital Partners, which will continue to be the controlling shareholder of Formula One till the transaction is complete.
Delta Topco, the parent company of F1, appointed former president of 21st Century Fox Chase Carey as the new chairman, while Bernie Ecclestone will continue in his position as CEO. Outgoing chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe will remain on the board of F1 as a non-executive director.
In a statement, Carey 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 see great opportunity to help Formula One continue to develop and prosper for the benefit of the sport, fans, teams and investors alike.”
Liberty Media will fund the deal through a mix of cash ($1.1 billion), stock (138 million newly issued shares worth $2.9 billion) and debt ($351 million that can be exchanged for Liberty Media shares). The Englewood, Colorado, company will also take on debt and cash on F1’s books, worth $4.1 billion and $700 million respectively.
Teams that participate in the F1 will also be given the option of investing in the business, for which details will be announced later. According to Liberty Media, “certain teams have already expressed an interest in investing after completion of the acquisition.”
In a presentation for investors, the media company said it expects F1’s revenues, currently at $1.8 billion, to grow to $9.3 billion by 2026.
After the transaction — which is subject to approval from antitrust authorities, Liberty Media shareholders as well as Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (F1’s governing body) — is complete, F1 will remain based in London.