Bruton Smith’s investment firm discloses plan to take Speedway Motorsports private

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Sonic Financial Corp., an investment company for Speedway Motorsports Inc. founder Bruton Smith, will take Speedway private as a result of a merger agreement announced this week.

The companies said Wednesday that they agreed to a merger in which a unit of Sonic Financial will acquire all of Speedway’s shares for $19.75 per share in cash — a 42 percent premium over the racetrack company’s closing price on April 23, when plans for taking Speedway private were first announced.

Currently, Smith, Sonic Financial and related entities control 29 million shares of Speedway and 71 percent of its voting power.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Smith, 92, also is founder and executive chairman of Sonic Automotive Inc., the nation’s fifth-largest auto dealership group based on new-vehicle retail sales.

Founded by Smith in 1959, Speedway owns eight motor-racing venues in U.S. cities such as Las Vegas, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. The company reported a net loss of $12.4 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $113.7 million in 2017, after poor weather or extreme heat led to lower ticket sales at a number of major NASCAR races last year.

Sonic Financial submitted a proposal to acquire Speedway Motorsports in an 8-k Securities and Exchange Commission filing, which included details about how going private could help the company overcome challenges that NASCAR has faced in recent years.

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