Liberty Media Buys Formula One

John Malone’s Liberty Media has acquired Formula One, the U.K.-based international auto racing series of Grand Prix events, for $4.4 billion in a cash and stock deal, the company announced Sept. 7.  

The buyout is expected to close by March. Liberty Media owns or holds significant chunks of sports and media concerns including the Atlanta Braves baseball team and SiriusXM. It also holds a 34 percent stake in Live Nation. Chase Carey, the former COO of 21st Century Fox, will become chairman of Formula One while Bernie Ecclestone will remain CEO.

Formula One has hundreds of millions of fans, and Carey said in a statement that he sees an opportunity develop it. He has said he is optimistic Liberty has the resources, expertise and outlook to drive the growth of Formula One, particularly in the United States.

Formula One is known for mostly European single-seat, open track auto racing such as the Monaco Grand Prix and, until 1960, the Indianapolis 500. Ecclestone said he is optimistic that Liberty’s reach in cable and sports programming can help regain American audiences lost in recent years to NASCAR, which he described as “the people who should be concerned.”

“I have been trying to do things in America for years but not very successfully … maybe [Liberty Media] are the people that can get it done,” Ecclestone said.