Liberty Media, ending years of speculation, said it will purchase racing icon Formula One from a consortium led by CVC Capital Partners for $4.4 billion.
Liberty Media headed by legendary dealmaker John Malone, has been in the hunt for the racing company since at least 2014.
According to Liberty, the transaction comprises cash and newly issued shares in the Liberty Media Group tracking stock and a debt instrument exchangeable into shares of LMCK. The transaction price represents an enterprise value for Formula One of $8 billion and an equity value of $4.4 billion.
In typical Liberty fashion, the deal isn’t an easy one. According to terms, Liberty will acquire 100% of Formula One parent Delta Topco by first buying an 18.7% interest in the unit for $746 million in cash. Former 21st Century Fox vice chairman Chase Carey has been named chairman of Delta Topco, 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, Carey said in a statement. “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.”
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 about 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.
“We are excited to become part of Formula One,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said in a statement. “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.”
The selling stockholders will receive a mix of consideration comprising: $1.1 billion in cash, 138 million newly issued shares of LMCK and a $351 million exchangeable debt instrument to be issued by Formula One and exchangeable into shares of LMCK. Upon completion of the acquisition, the Liberty Media Group will be renamed the Formula One Group and the ticker symbols for its shares will change to FWON. Formula One will remain based in London.
“I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them,” Ecclestone said in a statement.