Motor racing-Silverstone ends exclusivity deal, seeks partners

LONDON Thu May 3, 2012 12:22pm BST

LONDON May 3 (Reuters) - Silverstone has reopened talks with potential investors in the Formula One circuit after an exclusivity agreement with an unidentified partner, believed to be a Qatar-based group, ended without a deal.

The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), who own the circuit that has a long-term contract to host the grand prix, said in a statement on Thursday that negotiations with the investor remained positive.

However, with the exclusivity period ending, it would "broaden its search and engage with other interested parties".

Although the BRDC has never said who it signed the exclusivity agreement with last year, media reports in Britain have speculated it is the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) sovereign wealth fund.

PricewaterhouseCoopers are assisting and advising Silverstone in the search for partners.

The owners want to lease their 760-acre estate in central England for 150 years, in a deal that could be worth up to 250 million pounds ($405.10 million), to secure funding for development.

The BRDC has already funded a revamp of the circuit and a new pit and paddock complex and wants to develop a centre for high-technology motorsport, business and education.

"The commercial potential of Silverstone and the Estate is significant and we are seeking external investment, from third parties who share our vision, to help us realise that potential more quickly," said BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt.

"While progress has, and is, being made with our original preferred partner, negotiations have not yet developed into an agreement.

"As the period of exclusivity has come to a close we are now speaking to other potential investors."

The circuit also hosts a round of the MotoGP motorcycling world championship and World Superbike series and Rolt said it had a secure future.

"If we cannot find a suitable partner we shall continue with the development ourselves albeit at a slower pace," he added. This year's Formula One race is on July 8. ($1 = 0.6171 British pounds) (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Jimenez)

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