Formula One owner Liberty Media announces MotoGP takeover: ‘Dorna to stay independently run company’ - Hindustan Times
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Formula One owner Liberty Media announces MotoGP takeover: ‘Dorna to stay independently run company’

Apr 01, 2024 10:39 PM IST

Liberty will acquire 86% of MotoGP from Spanish company Dorna in a deal valued at 4.2 billion euros.

The global motorsport community woke up to the big news of Formula 1 owner Liberty Media Corporation announcing an agreement to acquire MotoGP on Monday.

General view at the start of the race (REUTERS)
General view at the start of the race (REUTERS)

With the acquisition of the world’s leading motorcycle racing championship, the US media conglomerate expands its portfolio of global sports assets, having acquired Formula 1 from CVC Capital Partners in 2017.

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Liberty Media will acquire 86% of Spanish company Dorna, the commercial and television rights holder of MotoGP. The Dorna management will retain the rest of the business. Carmelo Ezpeleta, who has been CEO since 1994, will continue to run the Madrid-based business with his management team.

The transaction reflects an enterprise value for Dorna/MotoGP of €4.2 billion and an equity value of €3.5 billion, with MotoGP's existing debt balance expected to remain in place after close. The acquisition is expected to be completed by year-end and is subject to the receipt of clearances and approvals by competition and foreign investment law authorities in various jurisdictions.

“We are thrilled to expand our portfolio of leading live sports and entertainment assets with the acquisition of MotoGP. MotoGP is a global league with a loyal, enthusiastic fan base, captivating racing and a highly cash flow generative financial profile," Greg Maffei, Liberty Media president and CEO, said.

“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."

MotoGP is the pinnacle of global two-wheeler racing with 22 of the fastest riders competing on purpose-built prototype motorcycles on some of the world’s finest racetracks, reaching top speeds above 360kph. From the first season in 1949 that staged six rounds across Europe, the sport has grown to more than 20 grands prix across five continents with a TV audience of hundreds of millions. Dorna holds exclusive rights to other motorcycle racing series — MotoGP feeder series Moto2 and Moto3, MotoE, Superbike World Championship and the new Women's Circuit Racing World Championship.

“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," said 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.”

Since Liberty Media’s takeover, Formula 1 has dramatically increased its outreach to fans through social media, online content, documentaries and web series. The impact of Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’ has significantly augmented viewership of the sport, especially in the US, a market F1 had unsuccessfully tried many times to exploit in the past under former CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

Apart from increasing the number of races (24 in 2024), Liberty has also changed its policy from ‘go east’ to ‘America first’. The race timings have been changed to suit not just European but also the US audience. From not having a single race in the US in 2011, there are three now – Miami, Austin and Las Vegas – with Chicago too on the radar.

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