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Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei has poured water on speculation Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is looking to mount a takeover bid for Formula One.
“Is there any chance we’re going to sell this thing and incur corporate tax? That should stop any discussion that anyone says that our friends, the Saudis, are going to buy it next week or something like that? If anybody knows us, they should know that’s just not in our cards,” Maffei told the MoffettNathanson Inaugural Technology, Media and Telecom conference during a session that was webcast.
John Malone’s Liberty Media paid $4.4 billion to buy the motorsports giant in 2017 and has since invested to boost the consumer appeal of the auto racing series, a marquee event for TV sport channels worldwide. Paramount+ recently became an official partner of the racing cars circuit as Formula 1 increases its profile online.
In January 2023, media reports pointed to Saudi Arabia offering a $20 billion bid for the marquee race car series, which Liberty Media rebuffed.
Maffei also discussed stepped up competition for Liberty Media’s audio entertainment powerhouse SiriusXM from traditional free radio and music subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music. “We do see increased competition, but we continue to get our share of customers particularly high end customers because of the ease of use of the product,” he told the investors conference.
And Maffei said Howard Stern wasn’t going anywhere soon after renewing his contract with Sirius Radio for another five years in 2020. “Howard has a good gig. We try to make sure it’s a good gig for him. He likes his audience. He seems to speak very favorably about management. Every once in a while I get a call out,” Maffei said.
The Liberty Media CEO’s appearance at the investors conference was interrupted at one point by an animal rights activist who urged the CEO to stop sponsoring the Iditarod dog-sledding race via internet service provider GCI, which is owned by Liberty Media.
The webcast feed for Maffei’s appearance briefly went down while security removed the activist from the conference room.
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