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Liberty Media, the owner of F1, takes over the rights to MotoGP for 4.2 billion euros | Companies

Liberty Media, the group that has owned the exploitation rights to the Formula 1 World Championship since 2016, confirmed this Monday that its next challenge is on two wheels. The American entertainment group has acquired 86% of Dorna Sports, the Spanish company that manages the commercial and audiovisual rights of the motorcycle world championship, MotoGP, for a total of 4.2 billion euros, as reported by the firm.

The operation confirms Liberty Media as a giant in the motor world, since it also has the rights to broadcast Formula 1 since 2016. This, however, could pose competition problems. In fact, the CVC fund had to sell Dorna in 2006, when it acquired the rights to Formula 1 which, 10 years later, it would transfer to the American group at the request of the European authorities. Liberty Media had not been the only one interested in the MotoGP rights, since the Qatari sovereign fund, through its sports arm Qatar Sports Investments, and the American group TKO, also participated in the negotiations, as detailed last week by the newspaper. British Financial times.

The expectation, notes Liberty Media, is that the acquisition will be completed by the end of this year, although it highlights that it depends on the approval of regulators. What is certain, according to the company, is that the company in charge of MotoGP will maintain its headquarters in Madrid with the same management team.

“MotoGP is a world championship with a loyal and enthusiastic fan base, captivating racing and a highly cash flow generating financial profile,” said Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media in a press release. In particular, Maffei highlights the role of Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, whom he highlights for creating “a great sports spectacle that we can expand to a broader global audience.” Both directors will participate in a conference call with investors this Monday, where they will provide more details about the acquisition, although they have already indicated that Dorna’s management will retain approximately 14% of its shareholding in the business, the company says.

The big question for analysts is whether Liberty Media will also be able to impose its recipe in the world of two wheels. The impact of Formula 1, the world’s top motorsport competition, transcends the circuit: the American magazine Forbes has valued the category at more than 17.1 billion dollars. This has been largely thanks to the new marketing ‘tricks’ incorporated by the American firm, which has tried to bring fans and idols closer together through a series of additional content, such as documentary series and other special events. In addition, Formula 1 expanded its offer to other continents, which has made the 2024 season the longest in history, with 24 events around the world.

“Liberty Media has an incredible track record in developing sporting assets and we couldn’t wish for a better partner to expand the MotoGP fan base around the world,” Ezpeleta noted.

In addition to MotoGP, Dorna, owned by the Bridgepoint investment fund and CPPIB, Canada’s pension fund, operates the Superbike world championship and the electric motorcycle championship, Moto E. However, its profits are far behind. Dorna Sports generated a turnover of 474.8 million in the fiscal year 2022, the latest with data available in the Commercial Registry, a figure that represented an annual increase of 33%. Of that amount, 324.4 million corresponded to the sale of licenses and rights, 45% more. The operating result was positive at 11.9 million, although the year ended with a loss of 7.8 million, still suffering the consequences that the pandemic had on the business.

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