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Thu 3 Nov 2011 07:47 AM

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Qatar in the firing line with rival Silverstone bidders

Wealthy Gulf emirate seen to be buying favour with $1.6m ‘gesture of goodwill’

Qatar in the firing line with rival Silverstone bidders
The deal would see QIA lease the British F1 circuit for 150 years, sources said

involved in the bidding process to develop the British racing track Silverstone
are reportedly unhappy at the way the Alpha Group, a Qatari-backed consortium,
has jumped to the front of the queue to become preferred bidder.

investors are said to be particularly unhappy about an alleged non-refundable
£1m ($1.6m) payment to the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) as a “gesture of
goodwill”, the UK’s Telegraph reported on Wednesday. 

is believed to have initially shortlisted four bids for ownership of the iconic
racetrack but in August the governing body sent a letter to
PricewaterhouseCoopers confirming a fifth party had been identified and granted
preferred bidder status.

close to the rival bidders have claimed the £1m payment secured the privilege,
the newspaper said. BRDC declined to comment, said the newspaper.

One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Monday welcomed plans for the Qatar-backed
consortium to take control of Silverstone.

what Silverstone needs. They need to let the professionals run it,” he said in
comments published by ESPN's F1 website.

“The new
owners will put proper people in, commercialise it and run it properly. They
will get the job done. They won't muck around. Europe has got to understand
that Europe will be sold to the Chinese or India or these people in the Middle
East,” he added.

If deal
talks prove successful, Silverstone will become the latest trophy addition to
Qatar’s extensive portfolio of British assets. The Gulf state already counts
luxury London department store Harrods and stakes in Barclays, retailer J
Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange among its investments.

Diar, QIA’s property arm, in August announced it had won a bid to buy London’s
Olympic Village in a £557m in a joint deal with the UK developer Delancey.

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