By Claire Ferris-Lay
Wealth fund QIA said to be in talks with racetrack owners for deal worth £250m
Silverstone owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), have entered into exclusive talks with the Qatari sovereign wealth fund to lease the site for 150 years in a deal said to be worth £250m ($409.2m), the UK’s Independent newspaper said Sunday.
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.
“To do all the development, 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 development there,” a source close to the deal told the newspaper.
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 standard suitable for it to retain the British Grand Prix after 2017, said The Independent.
The BRDC is owned by 850 racing personalities, including Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nigel Mansell.
If deal talks prove successful, Silverstone will become the latest trophy addition to Qatar’s extensive portfolio of British assets. The 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.
Qatari Diar, QIA’s property arm, this month announced it had won a bid to buy London’s Olympic Village in a £557m in a joint deal with the UK developer Delancey.
The deal will see the pair buy 1,439 homes that will become private housing after the 2012 Olympics, plus six adjacent development plots with the potential for a further 2,000 new homes.