The American entertainment company, which owns the rights to Formula 1 since 2016, will take over Dorna, which has owned MotoGP since 1992 and also controls WorldSBK and the MotoE World Cup, in a deal valued at €4.2 billion.

Liberty Media will acquire 86% of MotoGP, while MotoGP management will retain approximately 14% of their equity in the business.

The equity consideration to sellers is expected to be comprised of approximately 65% ​​cash, 21% shares of Series C Liberty Formula One common stock and 14% retained MotoGP management equity.

“We are thrilled to expand our portfolio of leading live sports and entertainment assets with the acquisition of MotoGP,” said Greg Maffei, Liberty Media President and CEO.

“MotoGP is a global league with a loyal, enthusiastic fan base, captivating racing and a highly cash flow generative financial profile.

“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.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the year, pending the receipt of clearances and approvals by competition and foreign investment law authorities. in various jurisdictions.

The confirmation of the deal has taken longer than both parties would have wanted, given that they had been in agreement on the terms for some time. In fact, the initial plan was to announce the move even before the opening round of the MotoGP season in early March.

However, the possible intervention of the European Commission’s body that regulates the competition market led the American side to put the brakes on the agreement.

It remains to be seen how the European Commission will react once it has analyzed the case.

In 2006, CVC wanted control of both F1 and MotoGP, but the European antitrust authorities forced the Luxembourg fund to get rid of its interests in MotoGP in order to finalize its purchase of F1, as the European body felt one company owning both series would not be good for competition within the European Union.

In 2022, the last year for which the accounts are publicly available in the Companies Register, Dorna Sports generated a turnover of 474.8 million euros, which was 33% more than the previous year (2021), which left a loss of 7.8 million euros, as a result of the echoes of the pandemic.

race start

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Also in 2022, the Madrid-based company refinanced its debt to 975 million euros in order to increase its liquidity, a move which, at the same time, allowed it to distribute dividends of 390 million euros to its shareholders.

For Dorna, Liberty’s was always the preferred route but not the only one. Qatar Sports Investments, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, and TKO, the media and entertainment conglomerate that, among other things, owns the rights to the UFC fighting championship, were also in the running.

Motorsport.com understands that the alternative offered by Liberty is the one that offers the most guarantees to ensure as organic a transition as possible.

It would not be surprising if the key positions that manage the MotoGP World Championship, with Ezpeleta and his son, Carlos (sporting director), at the helm, remain in their positions for a period of time that has probably been established by contract.

In any case, it is logical to expect that Liberty personnel will soon be in the MotoGP paddock, especially as the next event is the United States Grand Prix, scheduled for April 14th at the Austin circuit.

With Liberty’s entry on the scene, it is understood that the entertainment giant intends to replicate, with nuances, the success obtained after taking over F1 in 2016.

The changes applied at all levels and the exposure of a discipline through a mass platform such as Netflix – with the documentary series Drive to Survive, which coincided with the pandemic – led to levels of popularization never seen to date.

At the same time, the calendar has been growing and its footprint is increasingly present in the United States, a territory in which Dorna has had its sights set for some time now.



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