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Freshfields and Baker Botts steer CVC and Liberty through £6.4bn Formula One deal

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Baker Botts have won spots advising as CVC Capital Partners looks to sell off Formula One (F1) to Liberty Media Corporation for £6.4bn.

News of the deal comes after the London-based private equity house celebrated ten years since it first bought into the sport earlier this year in what has been described as the most lucrative private equity deal in history. If the acquisition goes through, the move would see F1 listed on Nasdaq.

There has been some turbulence over the past 12 months with the spotlight on CVC and F1’s owner Bernie Ecclestone after a revolt from supporters and F1 drivers alike following a debate around pay television after Sky secured a six-year deal from 2019 with only the British Grand Prix to be shown free-to-air.

CVC turned to its long-time adviser Freshfields, which earlier this year acted for CVC on its bid to acquire a majority stake in Germany’s largest private sports betting group Tipico Group with a team including Germany-based Juliane Hilf and Georg Roderburg with London partners Alex Mitchell and Rob Carlton. The firm also guided CVC through its £800m acquisition of Sky Bet in 2014 after advising on its £551m acquisition of insulation solutions company Paroc with a team led by corporate partner Tim Wilmot.

Freshfields has strong ties with CVC, with the founder of the Magic Circle firm’s London private equity practice Chris Bown moving to CVC in 2013 to advise its deal teams.

Meanwhile, Baker Botts is acting for Liberty Media for the second time this year after a team lead by Michael Calhoon acted on a lawsuit between Liberty and media company Vivendi Universal. A jury sitting in the Southern District of New York found Vivendi liable for breach of contract and securities fraud and awarded Liberty Media €765m.

The US firm also advised Liberty Interactive on its acquisition of e-commerce company Zulily for $2.4bn in 2015.

Macfarlanes also acted on the deal, advising members of Formula One’s senior management with a team including corporate head Ian Martin, corporate partner Stephen Drewitt and tax partner Peter Abbott.