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Liberty Media acquiring motorbike racing league MotoGP in $4.5bn deal

Liberty Media is set to acquire 86% of Dorna Sports, the TV rights holder of MotoGP

US media firm Liberty Media, which owns Formula One and was until recently the joint owner of All3Media, has entered an agreement to acquire MotoGP in a sports mega-deal valuing the motorbike racing organisation at around €4.2bn (US$4.5bn).

Through the deal, Liberty Media, led by US billionaire John Malone, will acquire 86% of Dorna Sports, the exclusive commercial and television rights holder of MotoGP.

Dorna’s management will retain the remaining 14% in the business, with Madrid-based Dorna continuing as an independently run company that will now be attributed to Liberty Media’s Formula One Group tracking stock.

Longtime Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, who has led the company since 1994, will remain in his post with his management team. MotoGP launched in 1949 and has grown to encompass more than 20 annual Grand Prix across five continents.

In addition to acquiring the company, Liberty Media also acquired its feeder organisations Moto2 and Moto3 as well as the FIM Enel MotoE World Championship, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and the FIM Women’s Circuit Racing World Championship.

According to reports, Qatar Sports Investments and the UFC and WWE’s parent company TKO Group had been in separate talks to acquire MotoGP before Liberty Media ultimately secured the deal.

The deal, which remains subject to competition and foreign investment laws in several jurisdictions, is expected to be completed before the end of the year, according to Liberty Media.

However, reports suggest that antitrust regulators may scrutinise the deal closely. Indeed, in 2006, private equity group CVC Capital Partners sold MotoGP in order to acquire Formula One after European regulators raised concerns about its potential ownership of both racing organisations.

For Liberty Media, the deal comes six weeks after the sale of All3Media, which it jointly owned with Warner Bros Discovery, to RedBird IMI for £1.15bn (US$1.45bn).

The company’s portfolio also includes Virgin Media O2 in the UK, which it jointly owns with Telefonica, and VodafoneZiggo Group in Holland, a joint venture with Vodafone Group.

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

“MotoGP is a global league with a loyal, enthusiastic fan base, captivating racing and a highly cashflow 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.”


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