Liberty Media seals $4 billion deal to acquire MotoGP


Liberty Media, Formula One’s commercial rights holder, has added MotoGP to its portfolio of sports franchises in a deal valued at $4.32 billion.

The acquisition, which has been mooted since last year, unites under one roof the pinnacle of four-wheeled racing with the premier motorcycle racing championship.

The deal sees Liberty acquire 86% of the shares of MotoGP's parent company Dorna Sports -  headquartered in Spain and helmed for many years by CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta - while Dorna's management retains a 14% stake in the company.

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

“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.”

“This is the perfect next step in the evolution of MotoGP, and we are excited for what this milestone brings to Dorna, the MotoGP paddock and racing fans,” add Ezpeleta.

“We are proud of the global sport we’ve grown, and this transaction is a testament to the value of the sport today and its growth potential. Liberty has an incredible track record in developing sports assets and we could not wish for a better partner to expand MotoGP’s fanbase around the world.”

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta with Carlos Sainz Sr.

The move comes after exclusive talks were initiated between Liberty Media, chaired by telecoms magnate John Malone, and Dorna's largest shareholder, Bridgepoint Group, a British private investment firm that owned 40% of Dorna.

Dorna is not just responsible for MotoGP. The company also holds the commercial rights for the World Superbike Championship and the all-electric MotoE class.

Liberty Media’s acquisition would mark a major shift in the landscape of motorsports. It would also raise a number of questions, not the least are potential antitrust concerns by the European Commission.

Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi sharing the track in 2019 after swapping rides.

Back in 2006, CVC Capital Partners faced scrutiny when it acquired Formula One and it was forced by the EU to divest its investment in MotoGP.

Speaking to Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, motorcycle legend Giacomo Agostini Agostini said that he expects “good things” from Liberty's takeover of Moto GP based on its stewardship of F1.

“Since we [MotoGP] are certainly no less in terms of entertainment, indeed, I may be biased, but I believe that our races are even more exciting, I think there is a good margin of growth,” commented the Italian.

Liberty’s move also opens the door to the creation of crossover events or experiences for fans involving the two peak motorsport series.

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