Bonanza for Brands Hatch boss

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Palmer, the former Formula One driver and majority owner of the historic Brands Hatch race circuit, scooped a £240,000 dividend despite profits coming in at less than £2m.

Mr Palmer is a 60 per cent shareholder in sports group MSV, which owns Motorsport Vision - the owner of Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Snetterton and the Bedford Autodrome, as well as Brands Hatch in Kent.

Results just filed at Companies House reveal Motorsport Vision made a post-tax profit of just £780,000 in 2005, although that was an improvement on the previous year's £34,000 loss. Turnover rose 12 per cent to £18.4m. Operating costs, however, increased slightly to £8.7m and the cost of sales also climbed to £7.8m.

Yet MSV still paid out a £400,000 dividend, £240,000 of which went to Mr Palmer. The payout came on top of his £441,000 salary.

MSV also owns JPM, a business that runs corporate race-track events, and has a 7 per cent stake in the British racing driver Justin Wilson, who raised £1.2m in 2003 by issuing shares linked to his earnings. Its biggest cash generator, however, is Motorsport Vision. In 2005, MSV made after-tax profits of £1.8m on turnover of £29.4m.

Brands Hatch is the jewel in Motorsport Vision's crown. It hosts the UK stage of the international A1 Grand Prix racing championship and hosts world championship rounds for superbikes.

It also offers various track days and events for private drivers. The rival Silverstone circuit, however, hosts the Formula One British Grand Prix and is worth over £60m. Earlier this month sports minister Richard Caborn said: "Working with the industry and working with the sport, I believe we can develop Silverstone... into one of the finest centres in the world."

The 50-year-old Mr Palmer, who originally qualified as a doctor, took part in 87 Formula One Grand Prix during his driving career. Mr Palmer was unavailable for comment.

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