Saudi Arabia wealth fund explored $20bn bid for Formula 1

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Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund reportedly held talks with Formula 1 last year as it considered a bid to acquire the sport from its current commercial rights holder Liberty Media.

According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) valued Formula 1 in excess of $20 billion including debt, a figure well above the $4.4 billion paid by John Malone's Liberty Media for the sport in 2017.

However, from the outset, it was made clear by Liberty to the Kingdom's PIF that Grand Prix racing was not for sale.

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal (KSA) President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

Despite the rebuff, Saudi's wealth fund remains interested in F1, an asset that it hopes to add one day to its growing portfolio of sporting franchises and events.

Under the ruling of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has invested in English Premier League football club Newcastle United and in professional golf tour LIV Golf.

Saudi Arabia hosted its maiden Grand Prix in Jeddah in 2021 and the country is expected to remain on the calendar for at least a decade, with the event part of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 strategy which aims to reduce its dependence on its oil reserves.

Saudi’s state oil company Aramco – one of the most valuable businesses in the world – was signed up by Formula 1 as a global partner back in 2020, while it also inked a long-term strategic alliance with the Aston Martin F1 team.

Furthermore, last summer, PIF took a stake in Aston Martin Lagonda, offering the troubled automotive company part owned by a consortium of investors led by executive chairman Lawrence Stroll a timely influx of cash that will help the luxury car maker pay down outstanding debt.

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