Wales

Kleinwort Benson joins Circuit of Wales team in Ebbw Vale

Circuit of Wales artist impression Image copyright Circuit of Wales

A private banking firm has joined the team behind the £375m Circuit of Wales project in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent.

City of London-based Kleinwort Benson works internationally putting in place funding for large development projects.

Nigel Spray, managing director of private merchant banking, said it would bring in £100m "as the last piece" of private funding for the project.

A sticking point for the project so far has been over the Welsh Government being asked to be guarantors.

On a visit to the Senedd, Mr Spray told BBC Wales that part of the bank's role was to help Circuit of Wales bring in more investors.

"We will be bringing in, roughly speaking, another £100m into the project which is largely funded, but that is the last piece of the funding," he said.

In July, plans for the motor racing circuit, hotels and an industrial zone were rejected for a second time by the Welsh Government.

The issue was that the Welsh Government was being asked to underwrite or guarantee a large proportion for the project.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said that proportion, about 75% of the project cost, was too large and he told developers to look at reducing that to 50%.

Mr Spray said: "We believe that there is a team here that is very experienced and this is exactly the kind of project that investors, not just UK investors, international investors are very keen to be involved in."

Image caption Nigel Spray said it was "very unlikely" the Welsh Government would ever have to put in funding

Asked about the Welsh Government underwriting the project, Mr Spray said: "They are there to encourage private investors.

"Although the government is there as a support, really the whole project is being funded by private finance and that I think is the reason why we will see this completed."

He added: "The walls are there - it's our job to put the roof on. There are already very significant private investors in this project and we're looking to specialist investors to come in and do that final piece."

'Huge regeneration'

Mr Spray said the bank had spent a lot of time with the management team, which was "very professional and focused and can deliver a project like this".

Since the last funding package was rejected by the Welsh Government, Circuit of Wales officials have been working on new proposals with more private sector involvement.

Nothing new has yet been formally given to Welsh Government.

Mr Spray added: "We see this as a very exciting project to be involved in. It's a huge regeneration project, a good news story, an opportunity for the motor industry to come into Wales but also significant for the tourist industry."

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