MARCH 13, 2003
Interpublic looks to withdraw from Silverstone
The Interpublic Group of companies has officially informed the British Racing Drivers' Club that it is looking for a way out of its involvement in Silverstone, via its Octagon subsidiary. The giant American advertising firm has now officially informed the British Racing Drivers' Club of its intention to withdraw from the scene and intends to find someone to take over the lease of Silverstone. Octagon owns the rights to the British Grand Prix but originally planned to host the event at Brands Hatch. When the Kentish circuit failed to get planning permission, Octagon then concluded a 15-year contract with the BRDC for the lease of the Silverstone facility.
This was followed by an announcement that Octagon, the BRDC and Formula One Management had joined forces to fund a rebuilding of the facilities. The first stages of that work was done but last year Octagon began to baulk at the costs of the second phase of construction work, a move which led to suggestions that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone would be buying Octagon. This has not happened but there seem to be few choices for those involved as it will be hard to find someone outside racing to take over its involvement in the British Grand Prix. There may be regulatory reasons why Ecclestone has yet to do a deal. If Interpublic cannot do a deal with Ecclestone it is hard to see who else might be willing to get involved in a business that has been losing money in recent years because of the need to invest heavily in new facilities to ensure that the Silverstone facilities retains the British Grand Prix.
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