Daytona (AP) NASCAR announced today that they will be sinking over $2 billion dollars in the purchasing of two of the sports most iconic race tracks. International Speedway Corp. owns some of America’s most well-known car racing facilities including the Daytona International Speedway and in Florida, where the company is based, and the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
The companies said Wednesday that deal is expected to close this year.
The deal comes a year after reports suggested the France family, known as the “first family” of NASCAR racing, was looking to sell it. Reports that have not been specifically addressed by the current leadership, including Lesa France Kennedy, an executive vice president and the CEO of International Speedway Corp.>
NASCAR late last year began acquiring the remaining public stock in International Speedway, which owns a majority of the NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. Layoffs began after the start of the year and many longtime employees, some who had started with the company under Bill France Jr., were let go.
According to the Daytona News Herald, the converting ISC to private ownership would also eliminate the need to answer to public shareholders whose objectives, such as a desire for immediate returns on investments, might differ from the France family which could then take a more long-range view.
Bloomberg News and other media outlets have speculated in recent months that the France family could be seeking private financing for NASCAR by selling a minority stake while retaining control of the company.
Adding the physical assets currently owned by ISC would improve NASCAR’s appeal to potential private investors.
In a statement issued on November, Jim France explained the rationale for merging the two companies: “In a highly competitive sports and entertainment landscape, a more unified strategic approach is important to our future growth.”
On Wednesday, the statement issued by ISC said the merger agreement was unanimously recommended by the special committee composed solely of independent directors of ISC’s board. The committee was led by ISC board member J. Hyatt Brown, chairman of Daytona Beach-based Brown & Brown Insurance.
The merger agreement is conditional upon approval of a majority of the aggregate voting power represented by the sahres of ISC’s Class A common stock and ISC Class B common stock not owned by the controlling shareholders (i.e., the France family) of ISC, according to the statement.
As of 10:40 a.m. today, ISC shares were trading at $44.97, up 87 cents for the day so far.