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Brands Hatch sold to Interpublic

BRANDS HATCH LEISURE PLC, the company which owns and operates most of the racing circuits in Britain, notably Brands╩Hatch itself, has been bought by the Octagon sports marketing and entertainment group, a division of the huge American advertising firm Interpublic. The deal is worth $195m with BHL shareholders receiving a premium of 36% on the value of their shares. Brands Hatch boss Nicola Foulston, who will become a member of the Octagon board of directors, is expected to reinvest part of her share of the profits in the acquisition of new racing facilities around the world.

If everything goes to plan Brands Hatch will host the British Grand Prix in 2002 and there are signs that Foulston's purchases may include other Grand Prix standard circuits. There is talk within the Octagon empire that Judith Griggs, formerly chief executive of the Australian Grand Prix, will be hired to run operations at Brands Hatch. Griggs is currently employed by Paddy McNally's Allsport Management which exploits F1 racing's trackside advertising and VIP hospitality businesses.

Octagon is the third largest sports marketing company in the world behind Mark McCormack's IMG and the Swiss-based ISL. Octagon was established in 1996 by the merger of five sports marketing companies including the Italian Flammini╩Group. The firm has since been reorganized and now has eight different divisions which cover athlete representation, event management, the sales of TV rights, licensing and merchandising and sponsorship acquisition and servicing.

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