Could Liberty Media, which acquired Formula 1 for $4.6 billion in a deal completed last year, set its sights on purchasing NASCAR?
A May 7 report by Reuters stated that the majority owners of NASCAR, the France family, were exploring the option of selling a majority stake according to unnamed sources. NASCAR had no comment on the report.
Liberty Media executives were on an earnings call with investor analysts Wednesday and were asked about their thoughts of NASCAR.
Chase Carey, chief executive of Formula 1 for Liberty Media said: “First and foremost I’m focused on, priority one for us here is really getting Formula 1 to where we think it can and should be over the next couple of years. We’re not trying to put blinders on, but I think we have an opportunity to really take this business to another level.
“NASCAR is a fairly different franchise for us. You look at the fan base, the regionalization of it in the U.S. is not really even a broad-based U.S. sport.
“We both race cars. I’m not sure beyond that there’s a lot that would really make it a natural fit for us. It would certainly give us scale in the U.S., and we could use that scale to build, but I think there probably are more differences than similarities. Our priority is really making Formula 1 everything it can be and focusing on things that would really strengthen Formula 1 in a different way. Liberty may have a different perspective. They acquire more businesses than we do. I’m only worrying about one business, which is Formula 1. I think there are limits to which degree that fits in a way that would really make one plus one is three. The guys in Denver (the company is based in nearby Englewood, Colorado) look at more businesses than we do. They may have a different view.’’
Said Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty: “But we are largely in agreement with Chase. I think it’s not as clear what the synergies are between the two assets, and I would note the trends have not been perfect in NASCAR. Unless we had a good thesis on how and why we could fix them, it’s not an obvious to us.”