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Liberty "very confident" MotoGP buyout deal will get regulator clearance

Liberty Media says it is "very confident" its multi-billion euro deal to purchase Dorna Sports and MotoGP will clear the anti-trust regulatory process.

On Monday 1 April, Formula 1 owner Liberty announced it had acquired MotoGP and parent company Dorna Sports from Bridgepoint Capital for €4.2 billion.

The deal was originally set to be finalised prior to the start of the 2024 MotoGP season, but getting it cleared by anti-trust boards – particularly in the European Union – slowed the process.

Former owner CVC Capital was forced to sell MotoGP when it bought F1 in 2006, which has led to some questions as to how Liberty plans to avoid the same fate.

Speaking in an investors call, Liberty CEO Greg Maffei was confident the deal will meet regulatory approval and that no leveraging of the two entities is taking place.

"We are very confident we will get this through regulators because we believe there is a broad market for sports and entertainment properties, of which both Formula 1 and MotoGP are only a small subset, and the market has continued to change from the time when the market was previously reviewed in a major way," he said.

"We are going to not treat these as a bundle or try to bring them together in the market.

"These are both separate properties. The things that we are bringing to the table here are not in any way leveraging the two.

Augusto Fernandez, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing, Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Augusto Fernandez, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing, Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Media VR46

"I think it's pattern recognition and leveraging some of the learnings we've had from F1, and some of the opportunity we see to expose MotoGP not in any way to leverage the two.

"So, I think we are very confident on the regulatory side."

Liberty's chief legal officer Renee Wilm noted that the company "will be filing with the EU. We will also be filing with the UK, Brazil and Australia for anti-trust clearance.

"And secondarily we will be making FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] filings with Spain and Italy.

"We think those should be done pretty quickly, and I think the anti-trust clearance should be done by the end of the year so we can have a Q4 closing."

Maffei noted that CVC didn't have time to go through the regulatory process in 2006 due to the deadline on it acquiring F1, adding to his confidence in the MotoGP deal being cleared.

"I would add one more thing, and I remember speaking to the CVC management, they were under a tight timeframe to get a deal done to buy F1," he said.

Greg Maffei, CEO, Liberty Media Corporation

Greg Maffei, CEO, Liberty Media Corporation

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

"So, they did not have the time to go and work through the regulatory process.

"And they were a PE [private equity] firm which had a big gain in one product and were moving to buy the other when they had a contract to execute on. We are in a very different position.

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"We are absolutely aligned as a group into a changed market.

"We're not under the same sort of time pressures. We believe the regulatory process will move quickly and smoothly, but will take the time they need and this deal will get done."

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