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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Russian investor Viktor Kharitonin has bought a majority stake in the financially troubled Nuerburgring race track in Germany, the track's administrator said on Thursday.
Kharitonin's holding company has bought a two-thirds stake in the track from race car supplier Capricorn Group, the administrator said in a statement. The remaining one-third is held by GetSpeed GmbH, which is owned by a management consultant.
Kharitonin's holding company and GetSpeed have made a down payment of 15 million euros for the race track. They will pay the rest of the total price of 77 million euros ($97.1 million) in the coming years, a spokesman for the administrator said.
Kharitonin controls Russian pharmaceutical company Pharmstandard, which has a market capitalization of more than $1.08 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Capricorn and GetSpeed won a takeover battle in March to buy the race track for more than 100 million euros, including debt, but Capricorn had trouble financing the deal.
Completed in 1927, the Nuerburgring, was built to showcase German auto engineering and racing prowess.
Previous efforts to develop the Nuerburgring into a resort for car fanatics faltered after the company became insolvent.
Earlier this month the European Commission ruled that state aid given to develop the race track into a racing theme park was in breach of European Union rules and must be paid back.
Reporting by Alexander Huebner; Writing by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Susan Fenton and Jane Baird