The Liberty Media consortium has confirmed its intention to acquire Formula 1’s commercial rights from CVC Capital Partners. The company will install Chase Carey, the Executive Vice-Chairman of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire, as the new Chairman of Formula 1, while Bernie Ecclestone will remain as CEO.
Liberty Media is an American-based consortium with a range of interests in media, communications and entertainment, including the ownership of the FIA Formula E Championship.
Its initial acquisition of Formula 1 amounts to an 18.7% stake, funded entirely in cash for US$746 million towards a total purchase price of $8 billion. The amount, less than CVC Capital Partners had originally hoped to get, means that Formula 1 has an equity value of $4.39 billion (plus $700 million in additional cash) while carrying debts of $4.1 billion. Those debts largely came from CVC borrowing heavily from banks and securing the debts against future revenues.
The debts – which will mature in full by 2022 – will be taken on by the sport’s new owners.
Liberty Media intends to acquire 100% of the shares of Formula One, which it intends to rename as the Formula One Group once the sale is completed and subsequently list on the New York Stock Exchange.
Liberty will pay Formula One’s sellers a combination of $1.1 billion in cash, $138 million in newly-issued shares in Liberty Media and $351 million in the form of a ‘debt instrument’, which is a traditional way of transferring debt for equity.
The purchase will be the subject of certain conditions and approvals by antitrust and anti-competition authorities in various countries, in addition to the approval of Formula One’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and Liberty Media’s current stockholders. It is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2017 and until that point CVC will retain a controlling stake but have no board voting rights.
“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 shareholder,” said Greg Maffei, President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Media.
“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.”
It is understood that the Formula 1 teams will be given the opportunity to acquire a financial stake in the Formula One Group, with the details of this investment structure being finalised in due course. It is believed that a number of teams have already expressed interest in this scheme.
Images via New York Times and XPB Images