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MotoGP bidding for World Superbikes...



We could be left with just this spectacle...
We could be left with just this spectacle...

By FT Imes
Image by Honda Racing

Swiss marketing agency, Infront Sports and Media, which owns World Superbikes, has been put up for sale and one of the bidders is Bridgepoint Capital which owns MotoGP.

The intriguing possibility of both series having the same owner was revealed in the Financial Times, a normally reliable source of business information, which reported that other bidders included the Qatar Investment Authority and a wealth fund from Abu Dhabi.

Infront sells media rights for national football teams and skiing world cup events. It diversified into motorcycle racing a couple of years ago when it bought a majority stake in WSB from the Flammini brothers who still run the series.

It is, however, a small part of the total company which has revenues of approximately £500 million and is led by Phillipe Blatter, nephew of FIFA President Sepp Blatter who has been in the news lately over allegations of jiggery pokery in world football.

MotoGP is owned by Dorna Sports SL, a Spanish company specialising in sports and advertising, which has lately had its own financial problems according to financial news agency Bloomberg. It has been the commercial and television rights holder for MotoGP since 1992 and was bought by Bridgepoint, a private equity company headquartered in London but with offices in Madrid, from CVC Capital Partners in 2006.

According to Bloomberg, the price paid included $445 million(£300 million pounds approximately) of loans. In the last month Dorna has been negotiating with its lenders (the banks) for a reduction in the amount it pays in interest. There have also been rumours that a sale has been discussed.

A city source said: "What all this suggests is that Dorna has been in danger of breaching its interest repayments with its lenders and, having tested the market, is far from certain there is a buyer out there who will pay anything like the value of the business (approximately £440m) when bought by Bridgepoint.

"The banks may be agreeing to reduce their terms and take a longer view in the hope that values will improve and to force a sale now might see them sitting on a huge loss."

Next season will see the introduction of the new 1000cc formula which, with the enduring appeal of Valentino Rossi, may see an upturn in fortunes.

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