F1 rights holder Liberty Media announces MotoGP acquisition

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool
Spread the love

Formula One’s US-based commercial rights holder Liberty Media has confirmed it will be expanding its motorsport portfolio to include motorcycle racing series MotoGP following its €4.2 billion acquisition of Dorna Sports.

Spanish company Dorna Sports, headed up by CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, is the promoter of several motorcycle racing series, including MotoGP, World Superbike Championship and MotoE.  

Bridgepoint, a British private equity firm, has been the majority shareholder since 2006. Previously, it held close to 40% of Dorna, with a slightly smaller portion owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), and the remainder of the shares being held by Dorna’s management, including Ezpeleta. 

Liberty Media will acquire approximately 86% of the Spanish company, with Dorna’s management keeping the remaining 14%. 

Under this agreement, Dorna will continue operating as an independently run company, incorporated into Liberty Media’s Formula One Group tracking stock. Ezpeleta is expected to stay on as chief executive of the Madrid-based company.

Liberty Media’s acquisition of MotoGP means that two premier racing championships now fall under the American giant’s purview.

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

“MotoGP is a global league with a loyal, enthusiastic fanbase, 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.”

Ezpeleta added: “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.

“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 Media 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.”

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and “is subject to the receipt of clearances and approvals by competition and foreign investment law authorities in various jurisdictions.”

As a Liberty Media-owned property, Formula One has reached new heights, both in terms of financial value and global popularity—a success the mass media company will undoubtedly attempt to replicate with MotoGP in the coming years.

The F1-centric Netflix series “Drive to Survive”, coupled with a greater emphasis on social media engagement, has led to a significant increase in interest and demand. Liberty has also gone to great lengths to conquer its native American market, adding new races in Miami and Las Vegas in 2022 and 2023 respectively. 

Liberty Media has retained the top spot on Forbes’ list of World’s Most Valuable Sports Empires since 2021, with Formula One having an estimated value of over $18 billion for 2023.