F1 owner Liberty announces deal to acquire MotoGP as well

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Formula 1 owner Liberty Media has agreed a deal to take over F1’s two-wheeled counterpart MotoGP through the acquisition of its promoter Dorna Sports.

Long-running news of Liberty’s interest in the business has accelerated in recent days, and the deal was made official on April 1.

The US-based company took over the Formula One Group – effectively F1’s promoter – back in 2016, purchasing a controlling stake from CVC Capital Partners.

Now, Dorna will be part of Liberty’s “Formula One Group tracking stock” – while retaining the same management team headed by long-time leader Carlos Ezpeleta.

“MotoGP is a global league with a loyal, enthusiastic fan base, captivating racing and a highly cash flow generative financial profile,” said Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei.

“Carmelo and his management team have built a great sporting spectacle that we can expand to a wider global audience. The business has significant upside, and we intend to grow the sport for MotoGP fans, teams, commercial partners and our shareholders.”

Before the Liberty takeover, Dorna’s ownership comprised British private investment company Bridgepoint Group (39%), the Canadian public pension fund CPPIB (31%) and other figures with lesser ownership, stakes including the Ezpeleta family.

But Liberty’s purchase, reported as having an enterprise value of €4.2billion and equity value of €3.5billion, represents the acquisition of “approximately 86% of the company”.

“Liberty Media has an incredible track record in developing sports assets and we could not wish for a better partner to expand MotoGP’s fanbase around the world,” said Ezpeleta.

The announcement says the deal “is expected to be completed by year-end 2024” – and acknowledges it is “subject to the receipt of clearances and approvals by competition and foreign investment law authorities and various jurisdictions”.

This is notable as Liberty’s takeover of MotoGP has been widely expected to face a probe from the European Union’s monopolies commission – especially as it had already intervened just under two decades ago when CVC had to put Dorna up for sale due to its acquisition of F1.

Also included in the announcement is a provision regarding “forward-looking statements” made in the press release, with the acknowledgment that “many risks and uncertainties” surrounding those statements include the possibility that “the parties may not satisfy all conditions to the proposed transaction, including the failure to obtain regulatory approvals”.

Liberty has stressed that Dorna – which also holds the rights to the World Superbike championship – will remain “independently run”.

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