MotoGP may have new owners this year. And leading the pack of potential buyers is its one time owner CVC Capital Partners, a financial investor which has a large presence in London
A value in excess of €1bn is being placed on it and its owners, Spanish marketing company Dorna, by the Financial Times which says there could be fierce competition from other European bidders. It quotes a banker as saying: “People pay a lot of money for these rights. It’s almost got no capital expenditure and very high margins. It’s a cash machine.”
It is highly likely that the Dorna management, led by Carmelo Ezpeleta, and owning circa 20 per cent of the business, would be very happy to welcome CVC back. It is not clear, however, how much of Dorna is on the block as no formal sale process is in place and Dorna are not commenting.
Dorna, which acquired the rights to run world championship road racing (later renamed MotoGP) from the FIM in 1991, was owned for many years by CVC together with the management. In 2006 they bought Formula One and were forced by the European Commission to sell their stake in Dorna.
It went to another financial investor Bridgepoint for about €500m who, some time later, sold half for about the same amount of money to CPPIB, a Canadian pension fund. So Dorna now had three owners, Bridgepoint, CPPIB and the management.
Last year CVC sold F1 to US media giant Liberty for $8bn and is now free to resume its interest in MotoGP. Rumours of a sale have been circulating for some time, much of it speculation on the basis that financial investors place a limit on their period of ownership, usually three to seven years, and will sell when the business is at its most attractive.
It is certainly that, outstripping any racing championship in the world on two wheels or four. And Valentino Rossi’s decision to sign for another two years may have been no mere coincidence.