Liberty Media Group (NASDAQ:LMCA) Closing In On Formula One Buyout

Liberty Media Group (NASDAQ:LMCA) could acquire a significant equity stake in Formula One (F1) from CVC Capital Partners, which owns 35.1% of the racing car series. The deal is likely to give Liberty Media a stake of between 10% and 15% in F1.

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The talks between Liberty Media and CVC have reportedly reached an advanced stage and a deal could be announced in the coming weeks. The discussions that the two parties have been having over F1 could lead to Liberty Media taking full control of the racing car series company.

$9 billion valuation

F1 is currently valued at between $8 and $9 billion. Other than CVC, the other major shareholder in F1 is Waddell & Reed, a U.S. fund manager, with a 20.9% stake. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone also owns 5.3% of the company directly and another 8.5% through an investment vehicle called the Bambino Trust.

However, a change in ownership at F1 would require the approval of the Féderation Internationale de l’Automobile, the governing body of motor racing. Ecclestone, who has been the public image of F1, is expected to remain at the helm even after the LMCA acquires a stake in the sport.

A new chairman

Chase Carey, an executive at Twenty-First Century Fox, is set to become the new chairman of F1. Carey will replace Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

The latest is not the first attempt by Liberty Media to acquire a stake in F1. Back in 2014, Liberty Media almost acquired a stake of 49% in F1 from CVC, but the talks ended in no deal.

Abortive IPO plans

CVC forked out $3.5 billion to acquire F1 in 2006, but has reduced its ownership in the sport in recent years to below 50%. At least two F1 IPO attempts have been aborted, with the first one being in 2012 and the second in 2013. Unfavorable market conditions and legal troubles revolving around Eccelstone contributed to the cancellation of the IPO plans.

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