Formula One could be taken over by the dark side very soon. Media mogul Joe Malone, who has been nicknamed Darth Vader, is reportedly getting ready to buy a majority stake in the popular sport. The deal has given rise to speculations about the fate of current F1 head Bernie Ecclestone.
According to a report by The Guardian, Joe Malone’s company called Liberty Media will be announcing a deal that effectively gives him control of Formula One Group, the company that runs what is considered to be the pinnacle of motor sports. The takeover bid is reportedly being negotiated between Liberty Media and CVC Capital Partners, the company that has a majority stake in Formula One for the past decade.
Joe Malone is known as an aggressive businessman who has control of a large number of media organizations. His companies include Eurosport, Discovery Communications and Virgin Media. The nickname Darth Vader was given to him by former US Vice-President Al Gore in reference to his ruthless business style.
Currently, CVC holds a 35.5% stake in Formula One. The deal with Liberty Media reportedly starts with the purchase of a 20% stake. This initial deal will reportedly take place in the next few days, with a full takeover planned for the end of the year.The amount of money that will reportedly be moved around could go up to US$8.5 billion.
Another major shareholder for Formula One Group includes Waddell & Reed, an American company that reportedly holds approximately 20%. Meanwhile, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the man who has been running the sport for over 40 years, holds 5.3%. Ecclestone’s Bambino Trust holds another 8.5%.
An earlier report also by The Guardian states that Ecclestone is confident that his role will not change despite the impending takeover. “I will do what I have always done. What role I play is my decision,” he said.