US media firm Liberty Media to buy Formula 1

US firm Liberty Media has confirmed it is buying the racing business Formula 1 for $ 4.4bn (£3.3bn).

The move ends years of speculation about the ownership of the company.

Bernie Ecclestone will remain as chief executive but Chase Carey, vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, will become the new chairman.

Liberty Media has stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.

Owned by the billionaire John Malone, Liberty will initially purchase a minority stake in the world’s leading motor-racing championship. A full takeover is planned if regulators approve the deal.

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“We are excited to become part of Formula One,” 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 One and benefit fans, teams and our shareholders.”

Ecclestone said: “I would like to welcome Liberty Media and Chase Carey to Formula One and I look forward to working with them.”

The total transaction values the firm at $ 8bn but includes $ 4.1bn worth of Formula 1’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. It has been criticised for taking considerable profits from the sport, which has suffered from falling TV ratings in recent years.

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