TOP Formula 1 racing team and supercar manufacturer McLaren is planning to sell its magnificent property in Woking, Surrey.

The plan is to sell the 50ha site, and then lease it back.

The company, like every carmaker in Europe, had to pause production in March after the Coronavirus lockdown began.

Since then its automotive revenue has dropped by about two-thirds compared to the same period in 2019, and it has been forced to cut its workforce of 4000 to 1200 — as it strove to survive.

Zak Brown, chief executive of the McLaren Formula 1 team, made the announcement at the weekend.

“Why have all this money tied up in real estate?” he asked.

“We’re not a real estate company, we’re a racing team and an automotive company.

“We’ve got a lot of cash tied up in the buildings and that’s not a very productive use of funds when you’re looking to invest in your business.”

McLaren hopes to get about $355 million Aussie dollars for the complex, which includes the offices, car plant and wind tunnel.

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Prior to the onset of the pandemic, McLaren had amassed significant loans to expand its business as well as buy out former shareholder Ron Dennis. 

Dennis’ shares alone cost McLaren more than $600 million.

When the pandemic hit, the loss of revenue meant McLaren struggled to pay creditors. 

Shareholders injected additional funds in March, and a rescue loan of $265 million came from majority owner Bahrain in June.

The company’s lakeside headquarters comprise the corporate and design headquarters as well as its factory. 

Estate agents Colliers has been appointed to find a buyer.

Other money-raising options could include selling minority stakes in its Formula 1 team, whose current drivers are Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz is moving to Ferrari next year, and will be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo in 2021.

The good news is that the racing team looks to be on the rebound. 

It is currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, behind Mercedes and Red Bull, and the automotive side is close to introducing a new generation of hybrid cars, starting with a new member in the Sports Series range.

“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,” a company spokesman said.

“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.”

 

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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