The owner of the Miami Dolphins football team is collaborating with Qatar to purchase a controlling stake in the world’s largest motor racing series,Formula One. This deal is valued at up to $8 billion and creates new leadership for a sport lacking lately in sales and TV audiences.
A source informed Reuters on Tuesday that Stephen Ross, owner of the Dolphins, seeks to gain a 35.5 percent stake from CVC Capital Partners Ltd. via his RSE investment. The arrangement could be complete within six weeks.
The source also said that Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s organizer of the sport for forty years, would remain to head racing.
Formula One racing is facing a drop in viewership, along with problematic rules and costs. The teams have had difficulty finding sponsorship.
Ecclestone, now 84 years old, once a used car salesman and team owner, has been a much debated figure in the industry, and paid a German court $100 million for a bribery case settlement related to the iconic series.
CVC had tried to sell Formula One twice, but instead sold smaller stakes to BlackRock and Waddell & Reed (U.S. investment groups), and Norges Bank in Norway. In 2012, It sold down from 63 percent holding in arrangements that gave it an enterprise value of $9.1 billion.
Britain’s Times newspaper reported that Ecclestone said some possible bidders were emerging.
“I have no idea whether any of these people have got closer with this, but CVC is in the business of buying and selling companies,” he said.
A source said Qatar is supporting Ross. It has been pursuing investments abroad, and financing should not be an issue for the group. Qatar is looking for a race, but has not yet gained a slot since Ecclestone gave Bahrain veto power against regional rivals. Qatar is already significantly involved in motorsport, such as the MotoGP season opening.
Ross’ experience in U.S. sports and the stakes with Qatar could boost Formula One’s presence, as it currently has only one race lined up for Austin, Texas.