Silverstone leased to Arabs for £200m over 100 years03/02/2012
By Lone Wolf
Image by Double Red
An announcement is expected later this month which will signal the sale of Silverstone, home to the British rounds of MotoGP and F1, into foreign ownership. The Qatar Investment Authority is paying £200m for a 100-year lease for the iconic Northamptonshire circuit.
The deal, which has been the subject of intense negotiation between circuit owners, the British Racing Drivers Club and the Qataris for several months, will write off debts of more then £20m and provide finance for ambitious development plans.
No official announcement has yet been made but BRDC President and former racing driver Derek Warwick said: "This will bring the circuit to a standard where we have the best facilities not just in Europe, but in the world. We already have the history and one of the greatest circuits and what we are planning will complete the package."
The package includes the building of technology and business parks, plus hotels, for which the local planning authorities have now given the thumbs up allowing the deal to go ahead. It will certainly have the backing of central government which wants to promote industries which are world leaders and motor sport technology is one of them.
Silverstone, which takes its name from the nearby village on the A43, was a war-time airfield. At the end of hostilities in 1945 it was developed by the BRDC into a racing circuit using the perimeter track and the runways, hosting the first British car Grand Prix after the war.
The 850 members of the BRDC will also be rubbing their hands as they are likely to share in, at least some of, the £200m. Some will get more than others due to a differential membership structure.
A City source told bikesportnews.com: "The Qataris obviously see big development potential here as they do with some of the deals they have secured post the Olympics. But they also like brands and this sits alongside Harrods which they acquired a couple of years ago. It appears that the future of motor sport has been secured and although no mention has been made of motor cycling - it is relatively small beer - it should be assumed that MotoGP will remain under the terms of its contract."
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