Saudi Arabia made an attempt to add Formula One to its growing bouquet of sports properties but owners of FI rejected the offer which valued the motorsport series over $20 billion dollars. Bloomberg reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund made a bid for Formula One early last year. However, F1’s owner Liberty Media Corp, which had bought F1 in 2017 for close to $5 billion, didn’t accept the bid and early talks didn’t work out.
According to Bloomberg, the Public Investment Fund remains interested in buying FI if Liberty Media has a change of heart. Saudi Arabia hosts the second Grand Prix on the season in Jeddah on March 19.
Saudi Arabia, driven by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been acquiring sports and bank-rolling some in what critics say is an attempt to sportswash the country’s poor human rights record and the fall-out of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. According to The Guardian, US intelligence agencies had come to the conclusion, as per declassified intelligence reports, that the Saudi crown prince approved the 2018 murder of the Washington Post journalist Khashoggi.
Recently Saudi Arabia’s fund bought English Premier League club Newcastle United. Saudi Arabia is also funding the LIV golf tour.
Two years ago, Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, signed a sponsorship deal with F1 in 2020.
According to Bloomberg, the Liberty Media tracking stock representing the F1 business has more than doubled in the past four years, giving it a market value of about $15.2 billion.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Monday tweeted that the stock was overvalued.
“As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1,” wrote the FIA president.
It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans. (3/3)
— Mohammed Ben Sulayem (@Ben_Sulayem) January 23, 2023
“Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money. It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans.”
Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s sports minister, told Telegraph Sport, “”We will soon be launching our national sports strategy, which also sits under Vision 2030, and groups everything we are doing in sports under one umbrella with clear objectives and KPIs,” he added. “We are also placing a very strong focus on nurturing and empowering the sports economy and ensuring Saudi athletes compete at the highest level internationally.”