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Formula 1 owner Liberty to reveal £3.5bn takeover of MotoGP

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The owner of Formula One (F1) will reveal a £3.5 billion takeover of MotoGP’s parent company earlier this week.

Sky News has learned that Greg Maffei, chairman and chief executive of Liberty Media Corporation, is expected to announce the motorsport industry’s most significant corporate deal in years during a trip to Madrid as early as Monday.

The deal has been on the cards for weeks, with Sky News revealing earlier this month that Liberty was in talks to buy Dorna Sports for €4 billion.

The final price could be slightly higher than that blockbuster figure, sources said on Sunday, with one saying an official announcement would come before Wednesday.

The award will represent a bumper return for Bridgepoint, the London-listed private equity group which has owned MotoGP through various funds for 18 years.

The private equity firm owns almost 40% of Dorna, while a slightly smaller stake is held by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

The remaining shares are held by Dorna management.

Bringing Moto GP and F1 together under common ownership would provide Liberty Media with the opportunity to extract financial and commercial synergies.

A motorsport executive said Liberty would seek to replicate the success it enjoyed with F1 in the United States if it were able to take control of Dorna.

However, a question would arise in any possible competition investigation into an agreement.

Bridgepoint bought Moto GP’s parent company in 2006 from CVC Capital Partners after the latter bought F1, attracting the attention of EU watchdogs.

CVC’s stake in F1, the majority of which was in partnership with the sport’s veteran boss Bernie Ecclestone, is among private equity’s most lucrative deals.

It was eventually sold to Liberty Media in 2016, valuing the world’s most glamorous motorsport at $8 billion.

Bridgepoint’s takeover of Dorna reportedly valued the company at around €500 million in 2006, before selling a stake to Office six years later.

A transaction involving the transfer of Bridgepoint’s stake from one of its funds to another in 2019 would value Dorna at €2.5 billion.

Bridgepoint declined to comment, while Liberty Media did not respond to a request for comment.

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