THE country’s sovereign wealth, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), is on the verge of snapping up another British landmark as it is believed to have been made preferred bidder for Silverstone race track, a leading UK daily has reported.
According to a report published in the Independent on Sunday, the QIA and Silverstone owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), have entered into exclusive talks to lease the site for 150 years in a deal said to be worth £250 million ($409.2 million).
QIA is said to be conducting due diligence on the circuit and will need to cover the costs of its development.
A final decision is expected to be made in six months. The QIA, owners of Harrods was selected from a shortlist of interested parties drawn up by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
If the deal talks are succ e s s f u l , Si l v e r s t o n e will become the latest trophy added to Qatar’s extensive portfolio of British assets. The sovereign wealth fund already counts luxury London department store Harrods and stakes in Barclays, retailer J Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange among its investments.
According to the Independent, one of the key conditions that BRDC will impose on the investor is that the site must remain a motor racing venue and must be maintained to the standards suitable for it to retain the British Grand Prix after 2017.
The newspaper, quoting a source close to the development, said: “To carry out all the developments, they have had to borrow a massive amount of money and, long-term, the club can’t sustain that. So they want to take a lot of money for a very, very long lease from a substantial entity, perhaps a sovereign fund, which will continue the development work there.” The BRDC is owned by 850 racing personalities, including Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nigel Mansell.
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