• German Grand Prix

European Commission extends Nurburgring investigation

ESPN Staff
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The future of the Nurburgring remains in doubt © Sutton Images
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The European Commission has extended an investigation into the financial aid given to the Nurburgring to help it avoid insolvency.

The European Commission first opened the investigation in March to assess whether a package of state aid worth €524 million was in line with the EU's state aid rules. Since then the circuit has received additional public support measures, which according to the European Commission include "a rescheduling of interest payments on previously awarded loans, a subordination of claims and, possibly, an additional shareholder's loan".

The European Commission plans to investigate whether that breaches EU competition regulations that only allow state aid to be given to a company in financial difficulties once every ten years.

"The European Commission has extended the scope of an in-depth investigation opened in March 2012 under EU state aid rules regarding a set of aid measures supporting the racetrack and leisure park at Nürburgring in Germany," a European Commission press release said. "The extension concerns several additional financial measures aimed at avoiding an immediate insolvency of the companies concerned. At this stage, the Commission has doubts that the measures were granted on market terms and that the companies are viable without continued state support. The extension of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the additional measures under assessment; it does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

"Additional public support measures in favour of the companies that operate the German racetrack and leisure park Nürburgring were decided on 15 May 2012 and partly implemented in order to avoid an immediate insolvency of the companies that operate the facilities. The measures consist of a rescheduling of interest payments on previously awarded loans, a subordination of claims and, possibly, an additional shareholder's loan in order to keep the companies in business for six months. During that period, a restructuring or liquidation plan will be drawn up.

"The Commission considers that these additional measures are strongly linked to other aid measures that it has been investigating since March 2012 because of concerns that they may not have been granted on market terms. The Commission is concerned that Nürburgring may already have been a company in difficulties in 2008, when it received the previous aid. Because of its highly distortive effects on competition, rescue or restructuring aid to a company in financial difficulties may be granted to a given company only once in a period of 10 years (the "one time, last time" principle of the EU guidelines on the rescue and restructuring of companies in difficulties)."

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