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Formula 1 owner Liberty revs up motorsport interest with £3bn deal for MotoGP parent Dorna

MotoGP - Teruel Grand Prix
MotoGP - Teruel Grand Prix

Liberty Media, the group credited with turning Formula 1 into a resurrected global phenomenon, will take over the biking equivalent as part of a €3.5bn (£3bn) deal to buy MotoGP parent company Dorna, in what experts have coined the purchase of a motorsporting “crown jewel”.

The agreement will see Dorna Sports remain an independently run company but Liberty Media will acquire an 86 per cent stake in the firm, with Dorna management retaining around 14 per cent of their equity in the business.

The move could see MotoGP get the Formula 1 treatment, with Liberty Media buying the four wheeled sibling competition for £6.3bn in 2016. As of last month Formula One Group had a market cap of $15.20bn (£12.1bn).

MotoGP exposure

“The deal signals the increased exposure of motorsport more generally,” sport finance expert Professor Rob Wilson told City A.M.

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“We saw the Liberty acquisition of Formula 1 and the developments of the likes of Drive to Survive – it broke into that lucrative North American market.

“So the signing of MotoGP is another crown jewel in the asset class portfolio.

“They’ve got a great track record in sporting assets so you would imagine that this will help take MotoGP onto a new level.”

The deal represents a big return for the London-based investment group Bridgepoint, which has been an investor in MotoGP since 2006. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) will also sell off its share of the business in the deal.

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

Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of Dorna, said the transaction was a “testament to the value of the sport today and its growth potential.”

Added Professor Wilson: “I think that alignment with what Liberty knows about motorsport in general terms, and the acquisition of MotoGP to sit it in the sporting stable alongside F1 and their other assets, is really good news for both the sport and the teams that participate within it.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and is subject to clearance by competition and legal authorities in various jurisdictions.

It could prompt some scrutiny from European regulators. CVC Capital Partners, who sold F1 to Liberty in 2016 for £6.3bn, had received clearance from the European Commission to buy it in 2006, on condition Dorna was sold.