(CNN) Formula One may soon have a new owner but it looks like the man behind the wheel is going nowhere — for now at least.
Formula One to have new owner after US$8 billion deal
Bernie Ecclestone has led F1 for 40 years and will remain as CEO after US group Liberty Media agreed to buy the race series from European private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in a deal worth US$8 billion.
The 85-year-old Ecclestone had reportedly told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that Liberty “want me to be here for three years.”
And on Wednesday it was announced that he would remain at the helm with 21st Century Fox vice chairman, Chase Carey, replacing Peter Brabeck-Letmathe in the role of chairman.
“I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them,” Ecclestone said in a statement announcing the deal, today (Thursday).
Carey meanwhile spoke of his delight at being able to work with the man who has been a colorful and sometimes controversial head of the sport.
“I am thrilled to take up the role of chairman of Formula One and have the opportunity to work alongside Bernie Ecclestone,” Carey said.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been critical of the dominance enjoyed by the Mercedes team
Although Ecclestone has helped transform the sport into a multi-billion dollar enterprise and brought it to a series of new and exciting locations across the globe in recent years, he has not been without his critics.
He walked free from charges of bribing a German banker during a previous sale of F1 after agreeing to a settlement that saw him pay out US$100 million in 2014.
At the beginning of 2016, meanwhile, Ecclestone stated that F1 was “the worst it’s ever been” after two years of Mercedes dominance. He also added that he wouldn’t bother buying a ticket to one of its races.
Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo subsequently told CNN that “sooner or later, F1 has to think how to replace Bernie.”
The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association also called for the sport’s structure to be changed in March in a statement signed by former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button.
Liberty, which is owned by US businessman John Malone and has a stake in the Atlanta Braves baseball team, will make an initial cash payment of US$746 million for an 18.7% stake in F1.
Once regulatory approval has been secured, Liberty will then take full control of F1 in a deal that values the company at US$4.4 billion. It will also assume $4.1 billion of F1s debt, pushing the total value of the deal above US$8 billion.
Greg Maffei, president and CEO 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.”
Liberty is a minority investor in Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.
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