The supercar maker McLaren Group is accelerating plans to strengthen its balance sheet by selling its spectacular Surrey headquarters in a deal that could raise £200m.
Sky News has learnt that McLaren, owner of the eponymous Formula One (F1) team, has instructed the property agent Colliers to begin marketing a sale-and-leaseback of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.
A deal, which is expected to draw interest from international property investors, will form part of a broader strategy to shore up the company’s finances after months of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
McLaren has already raised hundreds of millions of pounds in equity from existing shareholders this year, as well as arranging a £150m loan from the National Bank of Bahrain.
City sources said the company had now appointed Goldman Sachs and HSBC to advise it on a further equity raise and debt refinancing that are expected to take place next year.
McLaren is also plotting the sale of a minority stake in its racing division, which is likely to tempt offers from wealthy individuals in the wake of the Williams F1 team’s recent sale to US investor Dorilton Capital.
In a statement issued to Sky News, a McLaren spokesman said: “The potential sale and leaseback of our global headquarters and the appointment of banks to advise us on a debt restructuring and equity raise are part of the comprehensive refinancing strategy that we announced earlier this year.
“Building on the shorter-term measures that we put in place over the summer, these initiatives will deliver a stronger balance sheet and ensure that McLaren Group has a sustainable platform for long-term growth and investment.
“The proposed sale and leaseback mirrors best practice among leading companies and will have no impact on our day-to-day operations.
“The McLaren Campus, comprising the McLaren Technology Centre, McLaren Production Centre and the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre, is an iconic, world-class facility that will remain our home in the future.”
News of the plan comes amid McLaren’s improved fortunes on the racetrack, with the team sitting in third place in the truncated 2020 constructors’ championship.
Last month, the company announced an operating loss for the first half of the year of £184m, with “significant uncertainty” causes by COVID-19 continuing to overshadow its prospects for the remainder of the year.
McLaren is among the most historic names in the F1 paddock, and during more than half a century of competing has won eight F1 constructors’ championships.
The team’s drivers have included the likes of Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
An annual budget cap will be introduced in F1 from next year, and sources have said that selling a minority stake could help enable McLaren to operate at the level of the budget cap on a sustainable basis.
McLaren’s on-track operations, which include its participation in the Indianapolis 500 race, account for roughly 20% of the group’s annual revenues.
The team’s drivers this year are Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Earlier this year, McLaren cut 1200 jobs across its operations as part of a restructuring plan affecting more than a quarter of its workforce.
McLaren is owned by investors led by Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, which injected £300m of equity into the company as recently as March.
Its search for new funding was accelerated in the wake of a request for a £150m loan from the government being rejected.
McLaren is a major British exporter, supporting thousands of jobs across the UK supply chain.
The sale and leaseback of its HQ will come after McLaren parachuted in Paul Walsh, the heavyweight former boss of Diageo, as executive chairman – a move that stoked speculation that McLaren’s shareholders ultimately wanted to take the company public.
F1 team-owner McLaren revs up £200m sale of spectacular Surrey HQ https://t.co/OWa6BcWDkw— SkyNews (@SkyNews) September 10, 2020
McLaren’s road-car division, which was previously a semi-independent company called McLaren Automotive, makes some of the world’s most expensive cars, with models including the Senna – named after its legendary former F1 driver, Ayrton Senna.
The unit, which is run by Mike Flewitt, represents the majority of the group’s sales.
The British company saw its separate divisions reunited following the departure in 2017 of Ron Dennis, the veteran McLaren boss who had steered its F1 team through the most successful period in its history.
He became one of Britain’s best-known businessmen, expanding McLaren’s technology ventures into a wide range of other industries through lucrative commercial partnerships.
Mr Dennis offloaded his stake in a £275m deal following a bitter dispute with fellow shareholders.
He had presented to McLaren’s board a £1.65bn takeover bid from a consortium of Chinese investors, but did not attract support for it from boardroom colleagues.
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