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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 09:42 GMT

Business: The Company File

Brands Hatch takeover

Brands Hatch was a regular F1 venue in the 1970s

One of the most famous motor racing circuits in the UK, Brands Hatch, is to be sold to a US advertising agency.

Brands Hatch Leisure (BHL), which owns the Kent racing track, has agreed to a £120m takeover by American company Interpublic.

BHL will become part of Interpublic's Octagon sports marketing and entertainment division.

Brands Hatch announced last month that it was in talks about a possible takeover, but at the time did not reveal the interested company.

Brands Hatch recently successfully bid to bring the British Formula One Grand Prix back to its famous race track.

Sporting tradition

The prestigious race was last held at Brands Hatch in 1986, being run more recently at the rival Silverstone circuit which declined to renew its contract with Formula One which runs out in 2001.

Formula One will return to Brands Hatch in 2002, but the track first needs to make £20m of improvements to satisfy the demands of modern Formula One racing.

However, the track first needs to win planning approval for the extension to its facilities, and has run into opposition from environmental groups which claim it will destroy valuable woodland.

Brands Hatch has a tradition of motor racing dating back to 1926, and the new Formula One contract has been greeted as a welcome return to the limelight for the track by many motor racing fans.

In September, Brands Hatch leisure dropped plans to bid for the British Racing Drivers Club, which owns Silverstone, after running into opposition from club members.

Interpublic's offer values each Brands Hatch share at 546p - compared to its Monday closing price of 493.5p.

Interpublic's Octagon manages several motorsport series, including the Superbike World Championship, which includes racing at Brands Hatch.

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