THE V8 Supercars has officially sold to a Sydney-based investment firm for more than $300 million.

Archer Capital now owns 60 per cent of the V8 Supercars through its Australian Motor Racing Partners (AMRP) subsidiary, marking a significant ownership reshuffle for the Gold Coast-based motorsports brand.

Sports Entertainment Ltd (SEL) has sold its entire 25 per cent stake in the company while the percentage of the sport owned by the race teams has been reduced from 75 to 40 per cent.

In announcing the agreement, V8 Supercars stated that AMRP has ‘strong financial backing to ensure that V8 Supercars remains financially robust and to underpin the sport’s continued growth’.

Chairman Tony Cochrane (pictured) told Gold Coast Business News the sale would allow the brand to further its international reach, after being granted a licence to race in six events around the globe.

He describes the outcome as heralding ‘the most exciting and most dynamic (era) in V8 Supercars’ history.’

“This new ownership structure and investment is an exceptional outcome for everyone who loves this sport,” says Cochrane.

“For much of V8 Supercars, nothing will change. The management team remains in place, our business remains fixed and focused headquartered out of the Gold Coast.

“From a fans point of view, there will be more racing out of this decision today. There’ll be a bigger calendar and more television and media to follow our sport with. You’ll be hearing about lot of new destinations and a lot of new places that we’re going to add to our championship as we grow to 18 events across our calendar.

“We’ve been working towards those things for a long time and this just gives us the strong foundation under which to go forward and move on all of those items.”

V8 Supercars CEO Martin Whitaker, says the extra investment will assist teams in developing new vehicles under the Cars of the Future (CoF) plan.

“The Cars of the Future comes into the sport in 2013 and there will obviously be some large investment being made by teams in developing those new race cars,” he says.

“The teams will still run their businesses exactly the same, but will be able utilise that extra investment in the sport to assist in the initial capital expenditure. These new cars will be more cost-effective to build and to run, but the sale gives teams much more security in that initial phase.”

At least two high-profile V8 Supercars racing teams, Triple Eight Racing and Stone Brothers Racing, have publicly pledged their support for the sale. Whitaker however says the deal couldn’t have gone ahead without the full support of all V8 teams.

AMRP director Andrew Gray says the investment firm was ‘highly impressed’ with the recent growth of the V8 Supercars and is determined to provide the support necessary to take advantage of ongoing opportunities.

“There are tremendous opportunities to further grow the sport and V8 Supercars brand, and AMRP will actively support the management team in executing its plans,” he says.

“AMRP is excited to be investing in a sport that is an established part of the global motorsport landscape and revered by millions of fans.

“Custodianship of that support base is the most vital task for the business and we are committed to partnering with the racing teams and V8 Supercars management to continue to deliver outstanding Championship events.”

SEL CEO James Erskine says the company is ‘sad to leave the V8 family, but happy it is in good hands’.

V8 Supercars is widely regarded as one of Australia’s fastest-growing sports, enjoying average crowds of 126,000 for the 14 Championship events in 2010, with around 1.7 million television viewers tuning in to watch the Bathurst 1000 alone.

Numbers were also very strong at last year’s inaugural V8 Supercarnivale on the Gold Coast, with the event tipped to draw larger crowds in 2011.

The sale comes just days after signing a new partnership with Etihad Airways (read here) that sees the Abu Dhabi company become Supercars official international airline.

Archer Capital has more than $2 billion of funds under management, the majority of investors being Australian superannuation and pension funds.

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