John Malone's Liberty Media buys first slug of Formula One and agrees to pay $4.4bn in total

Oliver Gill
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F1 Grand Prix Of India
While Formula One heads east to Singapore this weekend, Bernie Ecclestone will remain in London (Source: Getty)

Liberty Media has bought a minority stake in Formula One in an agreement that will ultimately see the US media-giant take ownership of the company that runs the sport.

Controlling shareholder CVC Capital Partners announced overnight the sale of an 18.7 per cent stake in the business for $821m.

This is the prelude to a deal that will see Liberty pay $4.4bn for the equity of the business.

Despite rumours that circulated at last weekend’s Italian grand prix that the Bernie Ecclestone was on his way out, the Briton very much remains at the centre of sport.

Read more: Americans rev-up for F1 takeover

Ecclestone will continue as chief executive, working alongside Rupert Murdoch’s right-hand man – Chase Carey. In a much-anticipated move, Carey was announced as the new F1 chairman, replacing Peter Brabeck-Lethmathe.

Both were gushing at thought of working together.

“I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them,” said Ecclestone.

“I am thrilled to take up the role…and have the opportunity to work alongside Bernie Ecclestone,” said Carey.

Read more: Liberty Media in pole position on Formula One deal with £6.4bn bid

It was also confirmed that F1 teams would be given the opportunity to “make an investment” in the company.

“Certain teams have already expressed an interest in investing after completion of the acquisition,” a statement said.


The completion of the sale to Liberty Media is subject to a overcoming a number of hurdles and these were referenced in the announcement.

Sign-off by anti-trust and competition bodies in “various countries” – in other words sign-off by the European Commission.

In addition, consent of the governing body of F1 – the FIA – will be required. This could put parties on a collision course as the FIA actually owns a one per cent stake in F1. By signing-off the deal as a regulator of the sport it will also pocket millions from the sale of its small shareholding.

Ecclestone to stay

Reports emerged last weekend that the reported deal with Liberty was imminent with both sides ready to put pen to paper.

And yesterday, Ecclestone quashed rumours of a departure from the sport, confirming that he wasn't going anywhere and was keen to work with Carey.

"They want me to be here for three years.

"He [Carey] can do lots of things that I haven't done with this social media, which he seems to be in touch with. He's been dealing with sponsorship with his TV people. Between us we'll get on with it," he said.

Ecclestone's future had been called into question, with former team owner and television pundit Eddie Jordan saying on Sunday that Monza could even be the Briton's last race. He said:

That's Eddie Jordan. If he had any money, and wanted a small wager, I'd give him good odds.