Ending years of rumors and speculation regarding the potential sale of the motorsport, German magazine Auto Motor und Sport confirmed that Liberty Media is set to acquire Formula 1 for a sum of $8.5 billion.
The confirmation was made by Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone at the Italian Grand Prix, Auto Motor und Sport reported. He was said to have gone into a meeting with Donald Mackenzie, the co-chairman of U.S. private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, and Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler which owns Mercedes Benz, at the Italian Grand Prix.
The first of two payments of Liberty Media, the American media group owned by media tycoon John Malone, is scheduled for Sept. 6.
Upon the completion of the acquisition, CVC, which is the current owner of Formula 1 with a 35 percent stake, will be relinquishing its control of the motorsport. CVC made its investment in Formula 1 back in 2006, but has since sold a 21 percent stake to U.S. fund manager Waddell & Reed in 2012. Shares have also been sold to American investment firm BlackRock and Norwegian bank Norges.
Chase Carey, the executive vice chairman of 21st Century Fox, is said to be soon appointed as the chairman of Formula 1. As for Ecclestone, who holds a 5.3 percent stake in Formula 1, his future with the motorsport remains unclear.
"I will do what I have always done. What role I play is my decision," Ecclestone said. His role in the future of Formula 1, however, might not be his decision to make, though it is most likely that if he will be forced out of the motorsport, it will not be rushed.
CVC has received criticism for drawing considerable profits from Formula 1, which has seen decreasing TV ratings over the recent years due to the domination of certain teams. This year, the dominant racing team is Mercedes, which has won 13 of the 14 races so far in the current season.
Upon Liberty Media taking control of Formula 1, it should be expected that the motorsport will receive better marketing in the United States, where Malone's media empire largely operates. Malone, with his multimedia group covering cable services, internet access and direct-to-customer sales, is in a position to greatly maximize his newest acquisition.
Liberty Media would also be looking to make Formula 1 more profitable, and that could mean increasing the size of the motorsport's fanbase. This would perhaps entail selling the motorsport more as a spectacle, along with tapping the Formula 1 drivers more as endorsers.
Other companies who were said to have thought of acquiring Formula 1 include Qatar Sports Investments, the owners of the football club Paris Saint-Germain, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and even Apple.