Frankfurt, Germany - An investment group led by buyout firm HIG Capital is reportedly poised to acquire the financially troubled Nurburgring circuit.
The ‘Ring went into administration in 2012 after local politicians loaded it with debt equating to around 50 years worth of profit, and the famed and once-feared track started looking for a new owner in the spring of 2013.
According to weekly publication Wirtschaftswoche, HIG is paying no more than €70 million (R1 billion) for the circuit, which at 20km is the world's longest but has not hosted a Grand Prix since Niki Lauda crashed there in 1976. The adjacent modern Formula One circuit, which is 5.1km long, first hosted Formula One in 1984.
The assets include the track and adjacent amusement park which features a rollercoaster designed to mimic an F1 car.
HIG Capital declined to comment on the purchase, but seems to have outmanoeuvred Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who had also submitted an offer.
However, Ecclestone said on Wednesday that Germany's future in Formula One was less assured despite the heavyweight presence of Mercedes in the championship, with the iconic ‘Ring still to be sold off.
GERMAN GRAND PRIX
Nurburgring currently alternates with Hockenheim as German Grand Prix host and Ecclestone said he was trying to do a deal with the latter circuit to take on the race every year.
When asked about the chances of Formula One returning to the Nurburgring, one of the sport's most historic circuits, albeit heavily modified from the fearsome one used from the 1950s to 1970s, he said: “It depends who buys it.”
Completed in 1927, the original Ring was built to showcase German auto engineering and racing prowess, and the country's deep-pocketed carmakers had been cited as potential bidders.
An official for the administrator said that no decision on a buyer had yet been made.