Liberty completes on F1, Ecclestone out
January 24, 2017
By Colin Mann
Following the receipt of the necessary regulatory clearances and the approval of its shareholders, Liberty Media has completed its acquisition of Formula 1. F1 has appointed Chase Carey as Chief Executive Officer of F1, in addition to his existing role as Chairman, and Bernie Ecclestone as Chairman Emeritus of F1. Ecclestone, who has given valuable service to F1 over many years, will be available as a source of advice for the board of F1.
“We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of F1 and that Chase will lead this business as CEO,” declared Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media Corporation. “There is an enormous opportunity to grow the sport, and we have every confidence that Chase, with his abilities and experience, is the right person to achieve this. I’d like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, who becomes Chairman Emeritus, for his tremendous success in building this remarkable global sport,” he added.
Carey said he was excited to be taking on the additional role of CEO, suggesting that F1 has “huge potential” with multiple untapped opportunities. “I have enjoyed hearing from the fans, teams, [governing body] FIA, promoters and sponsors on their ideas and hopes for the sport. We will work with all of these partners to enhance the racing experience and add new dimensions to the sport and we look forward to sharing these plans over time,” he advised. “I would like to recognise and thank Bernie for his leadership over the decades. The sport is what it is today because of him and the talented team of executives he has led, and he will always be part of the F1 family. Bernie’s role as Chairman Emeritus befits his tremendous contribution to the sport and I am grateful for his continued insight and guidance as we build F1 for long-term success and the enjoyment of all those involved.”
Ecclestone said he was proud of the business that he had built over the last 40 years and all that he had achieved with Formula 1, and thanked all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that he had worked with. “I’m very pleased that the business has been acquired by Liberty and that it intends to invest in the future of F1. I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport,” he stated.
With the completion of the acquisition, the Liberty Media Group will shortly be renamed the Formula One Group and the ticker symbols for the Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Media Group tracking stocks will be changed from LMC (A/B/K), respectively, to FWON (A/B/K), respectively, soon after the group name change has become effective. Liberty Media expects the group name change and the symbol change to occur later this week. F1 will remain based in London and Greg Maffei will be Deputy Chair of the board of F1.
Separately, Carey announced the appointments in newly-created roles of Ross Brawn as Managing Director, Motor Sports and Sean Bratches as Managing Director, Commercial Operations. These appointments are effective immediately.
Brawn is one of the most successful and innovative Technical Directors in Formula 1 history. A Formula 1 legend with a 40-year engineering and management career in motor racing, he has won 22 World FIA Championships and the Le Mans 24 Hours. His honours include 11 world titles with Ferrari and seven as part of Williams and Benetton. He went on to win the 2009 F1 World Drivers and Constructors’ Championships with his own BrawnGP team, the Honda F1 team he rescued and renamed. Brawn sold the team to Mercedes-Benz in 2010 and, over three years, laid the foundation that enabled the team to win the 2014, 2015 and 2016 World Titles.
Bratches is credited as one of ESPN’s most influential leaders, with over 27 years of experience, most recently as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. His career has been defined by innovation and vision, and his contributions helped to fuel tremendous growth in ESPN’s brand and revenue. Bratches oversaw ESPN’s two primary revenue streams, advertising and sponsor sales and content licensing, as well as the research and analytics, marketing, consumer products and events marketing divisions.
He led a sales and marketing team that provided national advertisers access to ESPN’s premier media and marketing platforms and oversaw all content licensing for the domestic cable and satellite networks of The Walt Disney Company to its linear and emerging multi-channel affiliates. These assets included: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN SEC Network, The Longhorn Network and ESPN3. He also was responsible for the distribution of related HDTV, broadband, video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, interactive television, pay-per-view, Spanish-language, and sports syndication products.
“I am delighted to welcome Ross back to Formula 1,” commented Carey. “In his 40 years in the sport, he’s brought his magic touch to every team with which he has worked, has almost unparalleled technical knowledge, experience and relationships, and I have already benefitted greatly from his advice and expertise.”
“I am thrilled Sean is joining Formula 1. Sean was a driving force in building ESPN into one of the world’s leading sports franchises. His expertise and experience in sales, marketing, digital media, and distribution will be invaluable as we grow Formula 1.”
“I look forward to working with Ross and Sean, as well as key current executives including Duncan Llowarch, our CFO and Sacha Woodward Hill, our General Counsel, the FIA, Bernie and Liberty as we work together to make Formula 1 the best it can be for the teams, promoters and fans for years to come.”
“It’s fantastic to be returning to the world of Formula 1,” declared Brawn. “I’ve enjoyed consulting with Liberty Media these last few months and I’m looking forward to working with Chase, Sean and the rest of the Formula 1 Team to help the evolution of the sport. We have an almost unprecedented opportunity to work together with the teams and promoters for a better F1 for them and, most importantly, for the fans.”
Bratches added: “I’m very excited to be joining Formula 1 and contribute to the continued growth of this extraordinary global brand and sport. Formula 1 is one of few truly global tier one sports, and I am encouraged by the manifold opportunities to materially grow the business, work closely with current and future sponsors, race circuits, television rights holders as well as create next generation digital and on-site race experiences to best serve the Formula 1 fans.”