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Carey To Take F1 Helm As £6.1bn Liberty Takeover Nears Finish Line

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One of the media industry's top executives will be named as the new boss of Formula One (F1) motor racing early this week as a prelude to the sport's first change of ownership for more than a decade, reported Sky News.

Sky News understands that Chase Carey, a long-standing lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch, is likely to be named as chairman of F1's parent company as soon as Monday.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who has chaired F1 for the last two years, is to step down from the role but is expected to remain on the board as a non-executive director.

Mr Carey's appointment will come just hours before CVC Capital Partners, which has owned a controlling stake in F1 since 2005, signs a deal to hand over ownership of the sport in a deal worth more than $8bn (£6.1bn).

As Sky News revealed last month, Liberty Media Corporation is on the verge of sealing a takeover that will have profound ramifications for F1 and the broader ownership of global sports franchises.

However, there remains ongoing interest from other potential owners, including at least one private equity investor.

If successfully concluded, a deal with Liberty Media Corp is likely to be unveiled on Wednesday, according to F1 insiders.

 

The announcement will signal the company's intention to acquire 100% of F1's shares for cash and stock, subject to approval from the FIA, world motorsport's governing body, and anti-trust regulators in Europe and elsewhere.

A deal would then be likely to complete at around the turn of the year, with the final price tag partly dependent on the Liberty Media share price.

Liberty Media Corp is backed by John Malone, the American media tycoon, and sources close to the talks say a takeover of F1 will see the sport gain a public listing for the first time through a tracking stock called Liberty Media Group.

The appointment of Mr Carey, a former DirecTV and News Corporation executive who continues to serve on the board of Mr Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, will signal Liberty Media Corp's intention to exploit F1's lucrative media rights more aggressively, sources say.

Mr Carey, who is also a director of Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, would initially work alongside Bernie Ecclestone, F1's veteran chief executive, although it is unclear how long that structure would remain in place.

The takeover will yield a windfall worth more than $400m (£301m) for Mr Ecclestone, who owns a 5.3% stake in F1, as well as more than $650m (£489m) for Bambino Holdings, his family's trust.

The estate of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse in 2008 triggered parts of the ensuing global financial crisis, stands to receive more than $1bn (£752m) from F1's sale.

Under the Liberty Media Corp deal, F1 would effectively gain a backdoor stock market listing with the Liberty Media Group tracking stock likely to be renamed to reflect its ownership of F1.

Another of Mr Malone's businesses, Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, has also been exploring a deal, pitting it against its sister company.

Liberty Global has been working with Discovery Communications on its bid, while Silver Lake, the private equity firm which owns the talent management agency WME-IMG, has also been looking at F1.

CVC's investment in F1 has been extraordinarily lucrative, earning it billions of dollars in dividends and proceeds from the sale of several minority stakes to investors including Norway's sovereign wealth fund and BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager.

CVC is the biggest individual shareholder in Delta Topco, F1's parent, with a 35% stake, while Waddell & Reed, a US-based fund manager, owns just over 20%.

In sporting terms, F1 - which in the UK is broadcast by companies including Sky - endured a difficult start to 2016 amid controversy over the format used for race-qualifying.

However, a topsy-turvy battle at the top of the drivers' championship featuring the Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has stoked renewed interest in this year's series.

 

A change of ownership of F1 would be of huge significance given the explosive growth in the value of sports assets during the last decade as media-owners have sought new ways to connect with their customers.

Mr Malone has long-coveted owning a stake in F1, holding talks about a deal in 2014.

Liberty Media Corp, part of Mr Malone's sprawling asset portfolio, consists of assets held through three so-called tracking stocks: the Liberty Braves Group, the Liberty Media Group and the Liberty SiriusXM Group.

Collectively, the trio own minority interests in media companies such as Time Warner and Viacom, the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club, and Sirius XM, the satellite radio group.

The investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, are understood to be working on the Liberty Media Corp-F1 deal.

Read more on skynews.com.

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