Liberty Media taking stock on F1, but not selling up – source

Formula One owners Liberty Media have valued the property to gauge the progress of its investment, but not for sale purposes, an industry source has told SportBusiness Sponsorship.

According to reports last month, Liberty Media was “exploring scenarios that would decrease their stake in Formula One”, mooting the possibility that former owner Bernie Ecclestone could take a fresh interest in the sport.

SportBusiness Sponsorship understands that the group has evaluated its investment in F1 after two and a half years, having acquired the property for $4.4bn in September 2016.

But according to the source, this was “to understand the market value of their asset, rather than looking to sell”.

“They came in with very bullish targets and ambitions for the value of Formula One, which they haven’t achieved,” the source said.

“But they have done some great things, and are in a kind of holding pattern because they are trying to initiate lots of new programmes and projects.

“Equally, they’re preparing for the termination of this Concorde agreement [in December 2020], the regulation change and perhaps getting teams to agree to a budget cap, so they’re trying to put band-aids over what they can do for now, while working on the big issues.”

Liberty Media’s failure to add major sponsors has been cited as one of the problems facing the owners, but industry experts believe that sponsorship in Formula One remains reasonably healthy.

Earlier this year, Scott Branch, head of motorsports communications at CSM Sport & Entertainment, said Formula One has retained its “traditional” partners from the worlds of oil and gas, financial services, manufacturing and watches, but has started to expand significantly into new categories such as technology. 

Read this: ‘Formula One 2017: CSM’s Scott Branch shares 5 things learned in the first season under Liberty’