Liberty Media is buying the racing business Formula 1 for $4.4 billion, the company has confirmed.
The announcement ends years of speculation about the ownership of Formula 1.
Bernie Ecclestone will remain as chief executive but Chase Carey, vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, will become the new chairman.
Liberty Media has also stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.
Owned by the billionaire John Malone, Liberty Media will initially purchase a minority stake in the world’s leading motor-racing championship. A full takeover is planned if regulators approve the deal.
The total transaction values the firm at $8 billion but includes $4.1 billion worth of F1’s debt.
Liberty Media is buying the stake from the private equity firm CVC Capital.
CVC has held a stake for the past decade but sold some of its holding in 2012.
The private equity firm has been criticized for taking considerable profits from the sport, which has suffered from falling TV ratings in recent years.
“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.”
Bernie Ecclestone said: “I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula 1 and I look forward to working with them.”
Earlier, the 85-year-old British businessman said in an interview with Reuters that he had been asked to stay on for three years and would miss the Singapore Grand Prix on September 18 as he needed be in London for the negotiations.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial.
Bernie Ecclestone’s offer was based on an existing provision in German law.
Earlier on Tuesday German prosecutors accepted the offer from the 83-year-old billionaire who dominates motor racing.
Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in April, accused of paying a German banker 33 million euros ($44 million) to ensure that a company he favored could buy a stake in F1.
He denies wrongdoing.
The ruling means he walks free from the district court in Munich and can continue running the sport. It also means Bernie Ecclestone is found neither guilty nor innocent.
His personal wealth is put at $4.2 billion by Forbes.
If found guilty, Bernie Ecclestone could have faced a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.
Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial (photo Reuters)
A BayernLB banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was allegedly paid by Bernie Ecclestone to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favored, so that he would remain in charge of the sport.
Gerhard Gribkowsky was sentenced to 8 and half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.
Bernie Ecclestone says the payment was given to Gerhard Gribkowsky after the banker threatened to make false claims about the F1 boss’s tax status.
Prosecutors said Bernie Ecclestone’s advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds to accept the $100 million offer.
Bernie Ecclestone has attended most of the hearings in person and arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday in a limousine, looking relaxed and accompanied by his wife, Fabiana Flosi.
Asked by Judge Peter Noll if he could raise the $100 million, Bernie Ecclestone replied “yes”. When asked if the payment could be made within a week, his defense lawyer, Sven Thomas, said: “That’s do-able.”
Judge Peter Noll ruled that $99 million would go to the Bavarian state coffers while $1 million would be donated to a children’s hospital. The sum is believed to be a record for such a payment.
Court spokesperson Andrea Titz said Bernie Ecclestone: “The court did not consider a conviction overwhelmingly likely from the present point of view.
“With this type of ending… there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant.”
Under German law defendants can in certain circumstances “buy” termination of a trial.
The legal proviso exists in order to ease the burden on the courts and to deal with cases where reaching a judgment could prove difficult.
However, a lawyer quoted by the Spiegelonline website, Franz Bielefeld, said it was unusual for the clause to be invoked in mid-trial – more often it is done before a trial starts.
Bernie Ecclestone has appeared in court at the start of a trial on bribery charges in Munich, Germany.
The Formula 1 boss is accused of giving a $45 million (33 million euros) bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored.
Bernie Ecclestone admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment, but has denied any wrongdoing.
He continues to run the F1 business on a day-to-day basis despite the charges.
To alleviate his workload, however, Bernie Ecclestone has stood down from a number of F1-related positions until the case concludes.
Bernie Ecclestone is accused of giving a $45 million bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored
Correspondents say that he appeared relaxed as he consulted with his lawyers on Thursday ahead of the proceedings.
Asked by a journalist outside the court whether he was confident of victory, he replied: “I’m confident the sun is shining.”
German prosecutors allege that he bribed Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was on the board of Bayern Landesbank, to ensure that F1 was sold to a private equity group of Bernie Ecclestone’s choice.
The allegation is that by securing the sale of the stake to a company Bernie Ecclestone favored, he would remain in charge of Formula 1 and its commercial rights, broadcast payments and sponsorship deals.
The payments were made between July 2006 and December 2007.
Bernie Ecclestone, 83, admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, but says he was effectively the victim of blackmail. He has said the banker had been threatening to reveal false details of his tax affairs.
If convicted, Bernie Ecclestone – one of Britain’s richest men who transformed Formula 1 into a lucrative sport watched by 450 million TV viewers globally – could face up to 10 years in jail.
Gerhard Gribkowsky has been found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust and is serving an eight and a half year prison sentence.
Bernie Ecclestone testified during Gerhard Gribkowsky’s trial in 2011, and the former German banker is expected to be the main witness during the F1 chief’s trial, which is scheduled to last until September.
In February, Bernie Ecclestone won a civil case in London’s High Court brought by a German media company, which claimed it lost out financially when the share of F1 belonging to German bank Bayern Landesbank was sold in 2006 to private equity group CVC.
While the judge rejected a damages claim from Constantin Medien against the F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone was ordered to pay $4 million in legal fees.
Bernie Ecclestone has decided to step down from the board of the company which runs Formula 1 following his indictment on bribery charges in Germany.
However, Bernie Ecclestone, 83, will continue to run the business on a day-to-day basis, Delta Topco said in a statement.
Bernie Ecclestone will go on trial to face allegations he bribed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment.
He admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, but denies bribery.
Bernie Ecclestone has decided to step down from the board of the company which runs Formula 1 following his indictment on bribery charges in Germany
The board of Delta Topco met on Thursday and were told by Bernie Ecclestone that he intended to vigorously defend the case, which will commence in late April.
A statement read: “After discussion with the board, Mr. Ecclestone has proposed and the board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved.
“The board believes that it is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr. Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day to day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the board.
“Mr. Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements.”
German prosecutors have accused Bernie Ecclestone of giving a $45 million bribe to Gerhard Gribkowsky to ensure F1 was sold to a private equity group of his choosing.
Bernie Ecclestone will be tried on bribery charges, a court in the German city of Munich has ruled.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is accused of giving a $45 million (33 million euros) bribe to a German banker who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment.
Prosecutors allege that the payment was to ensure that F1 was sold to a private equity group of Bernie Ecclestone’s choice.
He admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, but denies bribery, saying he was effectively the victim of blackmail.
Bernie Ecclestone has been defending himself in a separate $147 million civil claim in London’s High Court.
That case was brought by a German media company, Constantin Medien, who claim they lost out financially when the share of F1 belonging to German bank Bayern Landesbank was sold in 2006 to private equity group CVC.
Bernie Ecclestone and Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was on the board of Bayern Landesbank, were accused in court of conspiring to deliberately undervalue F1 when it was sold, in order that Ecclestone would retain control of the sport.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is accused of giving a $45 million bribe to a German banker
The F1 boss told the High Court that he made the payment because the banker had been threatening to reveal false details of his tax affairs.
A statement from Bavaria’s district court said that a trial date for the criminal trial had not yet been set, but that proceedings were likely to begin in late April.
Bernie Ecclestone is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust and will be obliged to appear at his trial.
The court statement says that the payments made to Gerhard Gribkowsky were dressed up as consultancy contracts, and that both their source and their destination were obscured using corporate structures.
The payments were made between July 2006 and December 2007, it says.
Bernie Ecclestone’s German lawyer said on Thursday that the alleged bribery never took place.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been indicted by German prosecutors on a bribery charge.
The charge relates to a $44 million payment to a German banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayern Landesbank. It was linked to the sale of a stake in F1.
Bernie Ecclestone said he had paid Gerhard Gribkowsky to avoid a UK tax inquiry into the sale of Formula 1 in 2006, but denied the payments were bribes.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been indicted by German prosecutors on a bribery charge
Gerhard Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in Munich.
Speaking to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Bernie Ecclestone said: “I have just spoken to my lawyers and they have received an indictment. It’s being translated into English.”
Asked how he responded to the indictment, he said: “We are defending it properly. It will be an interesting case. It’s a pity it’s happened.”
Bernie Ecclestone said it was “inevitable” that the indictment had been served.
“If someone wants to sue you, they can do it and you have to defend it,” he said.
In 2006, Gerhard Gribkowsky was in charge of managing the sale of regional bank BayernLB’s 48% stake in Formula 1 to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which meant the firm owned most of the sport.
CVC has since reduced its stake in a series of deals.
In evidence to a Munich court in June last year, Gerhard Gribkowsky admitted that prosecution claims he had corruptly received $41.4 million in bank commissions, and a large payment via a family trust from Bernie Ecclestone, were “essentially true”.
In his testimony, Bernie Ecclestone said he had been worried that if he had not paid the money, Gerhard Gribkowsky would have alerted the UK tax authorities to “things” that might have led to a tax inquiry.
“The only alternative was that the British tax authorities followed a case that would have been very expensive for me,” said Bernie Ecclestone at the time.
“The tax risk would have exceeded £2 billion. I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things.”
Michael Schumacher has announced that he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season.
Lewis Hamilton is to replace the seven-time world champion at Mercedes from next year.
Michael Schumacher, 43, was linked with a move to Sauber for 2013 but has decided to end an F1 career that began in 1991.
“Although I am still able to compete with the best drivers, at some point it is good to say goodbye,” he said.
“During the past month I was not sure if I still had the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on.
“It is not my style to go on if I’m not 100% with it. With today’s decision I feel released from those doubts.”
Michael Schumacher won 91 races in 19 seasons, helping to revive Ferrari’s fortunes after he joined them in 1996.
He won his first title with Benetton in 1994 and repeated the feat the following year.
Michael Schumacher claimed five straight titles between 2000 and 2004, before retiring for a first time in 2006.
After three years away from the sport he made a comeback with Mercedes in 2010.
However, since his return he has managed just one podium finish in three seasons, at Valencia earlier this year.
Speculation that Michael Schumacher could retire at the end of the season first surfaced at the start of September, when Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he was “sorry that he’s leaving us not being a winner, because he is a winner”.
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug said: “I thank Michael. We have known each other a long time; we started together in Group C racing and he went on to be the most successful driver in Formula 1, winning more races and titles than any other driver.
“We were competitors against him [when Schumacher was at Ferrari with Mercedes supplying McLaren with engines] and we had always dreamed of working together and it came after Brawn Mercedes won the World Championship in 2009.
“We did not achieve what we wanted to but Michael has laid some strong foundations and I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart.”
It is unclear what Michael Schumacher will decide to do after retiring, but Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has already suggested a position is available for him within the motorsport group.
“We would like him to stay involved with Mercedes,” Ross Brawn said last week.
“There is a lot of things he can contribute – perhaps on the racing car side but certainly on the road car side and I think that is something he would enjoy a great deal.
“I think with a few months reflection he will decide what he wants to do with the next part of his life, and I hope it is still with what we are doing here at Mercedes.”
Michael Schumacher’s career:
1969: Born 3 January
1991: Makes F1 debut in Belgium for Jordan team
1992: Third in championship for Benetton
1994: Wins first title for Benetton
1995: Second title
1996: Joins Ferrari
2000: First title for Ferrari
2001-04: Makes it five titles in a row
2006: Last win in China. Retires at end of the season
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