US media mogul John Malone completes $8.5bn F1 takeover

Chairman of Liberty Media John Malone © Jim Urquhart
Billionaire media tycoon John Malone has completed an $8.5bn mega deal to purchase Formula One.

Malone's Liberty Media, which heads numerous media, telecommunications and entertainment companies, has agreed with CVC Capital Partners to take over motorsport's premier franchise.

The deal will happen in two stages with Liberty initially buying 18 percent of shares with the remainder to follow at a later date.

CVC owns 35.5 percent of the stock in the sport's parent company. Other shareholders include Waddell & Reed, an American fund manager which has a stake of just under 20 percent, British business magnate and current F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone with 5.3 percent, and his Bambino Trust holding with a further 8.5 percent.

The deal will see Ecclestone stay on as F1 chief executive, although Chase Carey, executive vice-chairman of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, is being lined up to become chairman of F1.

The deal is rumored to yield a windfall of more than $400 million for Ecclestone.

With F1 struggling to attract television audiences in recent times due to the dominance of individual teams and unpopular rule changes, Liberty's takeover has been welcomed by key members of the sport.

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner previously told the Guardian: "It could be a really exciting deal for Formula One if it happens - but for a new group to come in without Ecclestone being there would be very difficult, so I'd assume he'll be around for some time."

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"Maybe it is good news that an American media company buys Formula One. There are things we can learn from the American way, particularly in digital areas."

Malone, a big rival to Murdoch in the media industry, has assembled a global empire that includes Virgin Media and Discovery Communications, the owner of the Discovery and Eurosport channels.

He also owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team and was nicknamed Darth Vader by Al Gore, the former US vice-president, for his aggressive business nature.

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner previously told the Guardian: "It could be a really exciting deal for Formula One if it happens - but for a new group to come in without Ecclestone being there would be very difficult, so I'd assume he'll be around for some time."

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