Wales

Aviva 'to fund £300m Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale'

Circuit of Wales artist impression Image copyright Circuit of Wales
Image caption A hotel and motor industries centre are part of the development

Insurance giant Aviva is expected to be confirmed as the financial backers of the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale, BBC Wales understands.

The £300m project's new chief executive Martin Whitaker said an announcement was expected "very, very soon" when he spoke to BBC Wales for the first time since his appointment.

The track could bring thousands of bike fans for motor sport events like the MotoGP and employ up to 6,000 people.

Aviva's money will allow work to start.

Ebbw Vale has had many millions spent regenerating it after the steelworks closed in 2002 but unemployment has remained high.

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Media captionMartin Whitaker said the deal was in its final stages

The Circuit of Wales project promises to change that, creating up to 6,000 jobs at the track, two hotels and industrial sites, as well as promising 1,600 training places in a new academy.

The Welsh government has been asked for around £30m in a mix of loans.

But project has been a long time in coming.

Aviva is the largest insurance group in the UK and has 31 million customers worldwide.

Mr Whitaker said financial negotiations were at an advanced stage and "very, very soon we will be in a position to make the announcement and get on with the ground breaking".

He said the team behind Circuit of Wales would run the MotoGP at Silverstone this year and again in 2017.

The event will be held in Ebbw Vale in 2018.

He said one of the circuit's most attractive features would be that the track undulates with a height equivalent to 12 double decker buses between the highest and lowest points.

Another big attraction will be the accommodation will be available on site with two hotels and a large campsite.

Mr Whitaker has headed up Ford's motor sports programme and been general manager of the Bahrain international circuit.

A spokesman for the Circuit of Wales said it was currently in the closing stages of the due diligence process with its financial investors.

"In line with the exclusive nature of these agreements, Circuit of Wales will not be commenting on the potential identity of the financial institutions involved.

"Once these have been completed, the supporters of the project will be publicly announced and detailed construction timelines revealed."

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