Liberty Media rejects initial Saudi-backed $20 billion bid to buy Formula 1

Owners of the premier racing series Formula 1 Liberty Media have rejected a bid of around $20 billion for the property, according to Bloomberg who expect another even bigger offer later this year.

According to the financial and market news agency, the Saudi Arabi-backed consortium was not put off by the rejection, far from it in fact.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund, or PIF as it is more commonly known, has estimated assets in the region of $620 billion and is laredy the owners of Newcastle United Football Club in the Premier League and the new breakaway LIV Golf series.

They also made waves in football recently by attracting Cristiano Ronaldo to play in the local football league for a contract believed to be in the region of $75-million a year and rumours are that they are preparing an even bigger offer to get Lionel Messi too.

Liberty Media acquired Formula 1 in 2017 from Bernie Ecclestone and transformed the series from something of an elitest sport into one of the most popular brands around.

Part of their strategy was to open up the behind the scenes of one of the most expensive and technical sports in the world.

Once banned from social media entirely, drivers were now forced to open accounts and engage with fans and they took the paddock into the living rooms of the world with the widely successful Drive to Survive series on Netflix.

There is no doubt Formula 1 is worth a whole lot more than what Liberty Media paid for it back in 2017 and the option to sell for a huge profit is likely a tempting one, especially if the PIF comes back with a vastly increased offer.

However, one cannot ignore the politics and contraversy that follow are Saudi Arabi. For example, Liberty had to make a late call whether to let the 2022 Saudi Arabi Grand Prix go ahead after there was a missile strike on an oil facility close to the track.

They eventually decided to let the show go on and nothing bad happened but there was a definite air of trepidation around the whole race.

"I am so happy the weekend is done," Lewis Hamilton said afterwards.

"I am so happy that everyone is safe, I am just looking forward to getting out. I just want to go home."

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