As media companies and big technology companies vie for sports audiences, investors have begun to look beyond the traditional avenues for teams and sports that had a low profile in the United States just a few years ago.
The latest deal for a fifth-tier Formula 1 team owned by one of France’s largest automobile companies includes actor Ryan Reynolds and his investment firm, Maximum Effort Investments; as well as private equity firm Redbird Capital Partners and its investment partner Capital. He is buying a 24 percent stake in the Alpine F1 team owned by the Renault Group. Investors are paying around 200 million euros ($218 million) for the stake, valuing the team at around $900 million.
Formula 1 has grown in popularity in the United States since its sale to Liberty Media in 2017. The Netflix documentary “Drive to Survive” has drawn new attention to the sport, and attendance has skyrocketed as it expanded into cities like Las Vegas and Miami.
For Renault, the Alpine deal aims to increase the visibility of its Alpine electric vehicle line, as it seeks to more than half Its sales in EVs by 2030. In a news release, Luca di Meo, Renault’s chief executive, said the deal would increase the value of the Alpine F1 brand.
Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi said in a news release that the company would invest additional money in the team as it hoped to climb the rankings.
The Alpine deal came together over the last 18 months, Alec Shiner, principal at Otro Capital, said in an interview. As part of the deal, he will join Alpine’s board.
“They looked at us like, ‘Maybe you can help us with the areas where you’ve had success in America — ticketing, hospitality, sponsorship, licensing, merchandising, content,'” Mr. Sheiner said.
Mr. Skinner, previously a partner at Redbird Capital, served as vice president of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and later ran business operations for the Cleveland Browns. The deal is a first for Otro, which has spun off from Redbird to raise funds exclusively for sports-focused deals.
Redbird, founded by Gerry Cardinale, has taken a stake in Fenway Sports Group, the Yankees Yes Network, Italian soccer team A.C. Milan and the production company started by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. In 2021, it paid $37.5 million for a stake in the Indian Premier League cricket team, Rajasthan Royals. Last year, the Indian cricket broadcast rights were sold at a record price, cementing the league’s position among the world’s most valuable sporting assets.
Maximum Effort, which has also invested in aviation gin and Welsh football team Wrexham AFC, did not disclose the size of its investment. Other investors include actor Michael B. Jordan and Wrexham AFC co-owner Rob McElhenney.