And the time has come that Bernie Eccelestone take a back seat and leave the ownership of the popular Formula 1 motorsports. The high-intensity and extremely expensive form of motorsports is all set to be acquired by the U.S based media firm called the 'Liberty Media'. Liberty Media has confirmed to buy the racing business of Formula 1 for $4.4billion.
This move ends the long awaited speculation about the ownership of the company. Liberty Media will retain F1's boss as the chief executive, but he will be reporting to Chase Carey, who is currently the vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, and will become the new chairman of the F1. With this deal, the 40-year old ownership of the F1 by the 85-year-old British businessman will come to an end.
So who are the Formula 1's new owners? Well, the Liberty Media is owned by billionaire John Malone and the firm has stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club. Liberty has agreed to pay $4.4 billion for the deal to go through, but they will initially purchase only 16% stake in the F1.
But Liberty is eyeing over a complete takeover, once the regulators approve the deal. The world's leading motor-racing championship's total transaction value is estimated at $8 billion, but includes $4.1 billion worth of F1's debt. The initial stakes that Liberty Media has decided is being sourced from the private equity firm CVC Capital.
CVC Capital owned the aforementioned stakes for the past decade before selling some of them in 2012. CVC was criticized for taking considerable profits from the loss making sport, which is suffering from falling popularity. The deal is considered to be one of the biggest deals in the history of not only the F1, but also the motorsports in general.
"We are excited to become part of Formula 1," said Greg Maffei, chief executive of Liberty Media. "We think our long-term perspective and expertise with media and sports assets will allow us to be good stewards of Formula 1 and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders."
Mr Ecclestone said: "I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula 1 and I look forward to working with them." The F1 was not always like a sunken ship as under the long command of Bernie Ecclestone and the last decade of ownership by private equity group CVC, F1 has witnessed growing global popularity, profits and new races.
Liberty Media will have to deal with the declining popularity of the F1 among other issues like the rising costs to teams, decline in appeal among younger audiences and predictability of races. But it is also said that Liberty could help the F1 regain its strengths and gain new fans (especially in the Americas) with an experience in round marketing, promotion, digital rights and social media.