Liberty Media, part of US billionaire John Malone’s international media empire, has confirmed a £6bn takeover of Formula One.
Mr Malone’s other companies include Liberty Global which owns various cable companies including Virgin Media.
F1 generates income revenue from race hosting fees, corporate hospitality and advertising/sponsorship and TV rights and in the UK is currently broadcast by pay-TV giant Sky.
Mr Malone’s involvement will inevitably spark speculation that future rights could be granted to his cable firms, although the resulting loss of income from a competitive auction of broadcasting rights could make this unlikely.
Under a deal announced on Wednesday evening the firm will acquire an initial 18.7% stake in Delta Topco, the holding company which owns global rights to the motorsport, followed by a complete takeover “subject to satisfaction” of certain conditions.
Delta Topco is currently owned by a consortium of investment firms, including CVC Capital Partners, who will each receive shares in the merged Liberty Media/Formula One business which is to be renamed the Formula One Group.
As part of the deal announced today F1 legend Bernie Ecclestone will remain CEO, with former Rupert Murdoch executive Chase Carey taking on the role of Chairman.
Greg Maffei, President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Media, said: “We are excited to become part of Formula One.
“We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula One and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.
“We look forward to working closely with Chase Carey and Bernie Ecclestone to support the next phase of growth for this hugely popular global sport.”
In a statement Mr Carey said: “I am thrilled to take up the role of Chairman of Formula One and have the opportunity to work alongside Bernie Ecclestone, CVC, and the Liberty Media team.
“I greatly admire Formula One as a unique global sports entertainment franchise attracting hundreds of millions of fans each season from all around the world.
“I see great opportunity to help Formula One continue to develop and prosper for the benefit of the sport, fans, teams and investors alike.”
Bernie Ecclestone, who has run the sport for 40 years, said: “I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them.”
Donald Mackenzie, Co-Chairman of CVC, commented: “We are delighted Chase Carey is joining Formula One as its new Chairman and that he will be working alongside Bernie Ecclestone.
“Chase’s experience and knowledge of sport, media and entertainment is as good as it gets and we are very pleased to secure his services.
“Bernie has been a wonderful CEO for us over the last 10 years. There have been many successes and the occasional challenge but there has never been a dull moment and we have had a lot of fun.
“The combined skills of Chase and Bernie mean that the successes should continue and we wish them well.”