Formula 1 to set up fully-fledged local entity in China

Formula 1 to set up fully-fledged local entity in China

Formula One's planned Chinese joint venture will have its own marketing, licensing and media rights arms dedicated to growing the sport's presence in the vast but still nascent market, commercial managing director Sean Bratches has said.

"What we will do is effectively set up a similar structure to what we have in London," the former ESPN executive told Reuters at the weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

"With a head of marketing, a head of licensing, a head of media rights, a head of sponsorship, a head of digital, etc. and really activate the brand here like its own entity," added the American.

Sources told Reuters last week that Liberty Media, who took over as Formula One's commercial rights holder last year, was talking to potential local partners including Inter Milan owner Suning and La Liga rights holder DDMC to form a joint venture that would help manage business development in China.

Formula One held its first grand prix in China in 2004. Despite a steadily growing fanbase, a Chinese population of 1.3 billion means there still remains a vast opportunity for the sport to tap. Last year the sport struck a deal to build strategic partnerships in the country with marketing agency Lagardere Sports and Entertainment. The company's chief executive told Reuters then that the growth of the Chinese middle classes could see 400 million people over the next 12 or 13 years having disposable income to spend on entertainment and lifestyle.

Efforts to reach out to fans are already underway, with the sport organising a fan-festival in the heart of Shanghai last week and striking fresh television and digital broadcasting deals with state network CCTV and Tencent. Bratches said the local joint venture would be responsible for agreeing such deals in future. It could also help the country, which hasn't yet had a Formula One driver, establish driver development schools and look at organising a second race in China, which Liberty are keen on but remains some years away.

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