MONZA — The long-awaited sale of Formula One to a US media group is about to be completed, according to reports on Sunday.
The well-sourced German magazine Auto Motor und Sport said the sport’s veteran commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone had confirmed the deal at the Italian Grand Prix.
The magazine reported that Ecclestone said Liberty Media would make the first of two payments on Tuesday in a sale deal valued at $8.5bn.
If that goes through, according to well-informed paddock sources, current owners CVC Capital Partners, which hold a 35% stake, will leave the sport.
Liberty Media Group, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is expected to take control of the company that will run Formula One.
Ecclestone told Auto Motor und Sport his future with the business would remain in his hands. "I will do what I have always done. What role I play is my decision."
According to British newspaper the Telegraph, British broadcaster Sky and a consortium of Liberty Media’s sister company Liberty Global and Discovery Communications were also circling Formula One.
It said that other interested buyers included Qatar Sports Investments, the owners of Paris Saint-Germain football club, and Stephen Ross, the owner of American football team the Miami Dolphins.
Fiat Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne earlier said the industry as a whole had a vested interest in stability for Formula One racing.
"I’ve had this conversation with CVC in the past, I’ve had it with Bernie. I think it’s important that we provide stability and a long-term view. I’m sure that will happen soon," Marchionne was quoted by the Telegraph as saying. Formula One’s biggest shareholders are private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, with a 35.5% stake and US fund manager Waddell & Reed, with 20.9%. Ecclestone holds 5.3% of Formula One and his Bambino Trust has another 8.5%.CVC and Liberty Media declined to comment on the Auto Motor und Sport report. Waddell & Reed was not available for comment.