What In The Green Hell Is Going On With The Nürburgring? An Explainer

If you've been following the back-and-forth over the Nürburgring sale you'd have assumed that all was well and everyone's favorite race track was already sold. Uh, not quite, and today we got news that seemed good and news that seemed terrible. Here's what's going on.

The background you need to know is that local politicians and the prior owners of the Nürburgring made a bunch of weird investments in the place that included a shopping mall no one used and a roller coaster that was, apparently, too unsafe and costly to continually operate (it just sits there despite costing nearly $15 million).


After all of this the 'Ring went into administration in 2012 and they spent a long time trying to sell it. One of the bidders was U.S.-based HiG Capital, which said it had the money to do it and was probably going to get the deal done. That's not what happened, and instead German-based auto supplier Capricorn was awarded the deal. Never root against the home team, I guess.

Things seemed to be going well, although I'd heard rumors the company had a little trouble getting all their cash together since they'd had to finance part of the deal. There was also concern that the deal wouldn't be approved because of all the shady shit that went down before.


Which brings us to today. Good news: An EU commission looking into the deal said that it was legal. From the statement:

After an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that public support measures in favour of the racetrack, leisure park and hotels at Nürburgring in Germany were incompatible with EU state aid rules and gave the companies then owning or operating them an undue competitive advantage. The beneficiary companies are all in insolvency proceedings. The Commission has also found that their assets have been sold in an open and transparent tender at their market value. The buyer is therefore not liable to pay back the incompatible aid.


So what's the bad news?

There's a report out today saying that the deal is going to collapse because Capricorn lost its funding from Deutsche Bank:

The respected German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche claims Deutsche Bank has withdrawn its financing for the Capricorn transaction, meaning a new buyer for the Nurburgring is now being sought.


So, should we panic? Maybe not. For one, they have two months to get the deal put back together. And even if that doesn't happen we can assume HiG is still interested, assuming they can get the same deal that Capricorn already made with Bernie Ecclestone for another decade of F1 races.

As one source familiar with the negotiations told Jalopnik, "It's not terrible news, one way or another there will be a new owner for the 'Ring."


Photo: Getty Images

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