BRUSSELS Aug 8 EU competition regulators
stepped up on Wednesday their investigation into state aid
granted to the Nuerburgring racetrack in Germany, which hosts
the German Formula One Grand Prix.
The European Commission said the extended probe would
examine several additional financial measures provided in May to
help avoid an immediate insolvency.
Nuerburgring GmbH, 90 percent owned by the state, ran into
financial trouble amid a dispute with the track's operator over
leasing fees, and the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate has
sought to restructure the company with the help of a bridge
The measures included rescheduling interest payments on
previously awarded loans and, possibly, an additional
shareholder's loan to keep the racetrack and its operator in
business for six months during which a restructuring plan would
be drawn up.
Rhineland-Palatinate is under pressure to make the track pay
after pouring millions of euros into a racing-themed amusement
Nuerburgring, located about 120 km northwest of Frankfurt,
alternates the German Grand Prix with the Hockenheimring, host
to the event in even-numbered years. It was the scene in 1976 of
the fiery crash of then reigning Formula One world champion Niki
Lauda, which almost killed the Austrian.
The track is used by automakers including BMW and
Toyota to test cars.
"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 EU watchdog said in a
It said the latest public support was linked to 524 million
euros ($650.81 million) of state aid granted by German
authorities which it has been investigating since March to see
if they had been given on market terms.
Public authorities can only provide financial support to
troubled companies once in 10 years under EU state aid rules.
($1 = 0.8052 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)