McLaren Racing to sell third of company to US-based investors

Formula 1
Briton Lando Norris in action for McLaren in Abu Dhabi

McLaren Racing has agreed to sell a third of the company to a group of United States-based investors.

MSP Sports Capital will inject £185m by the end of 2022 in a deal valuing the British company at £550m.

The consortium has initially bought 15% of the firm running McLaren’s Formula 1 and IndyCar teams. It will rise to 33%.

“This investment bolsters our plan to return to contention for wins and championships in F1 and IndyCar,” said McLaren Racing chief Zak Brown.

Brown said MSP Sports Capital was “first and foremost a sports investor [which has] considerable experience and proven success in global sports properties”.

MSP has invested in Major League Baseball, NBA basketball and sports broadcaster ESPN.

McLaren, which is based in Woking, has faced financial difficulties over the past few years, which were worsened in 2020 by the coronavirus crisis.

In the summer, it secured a £150m loan from a Bahraini bank to solve its immediate cashflow problems.

This was in addition to a total of £500m invested into the company by its shareholders since the start of 2019, all of which had been spent by June this year as a direct result of the effect on the business of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In May, the McLaren Group announced plans to cut a quarter of its workforce across its racing, automotive and applied technologies divisions as a result of financial difficulties.

A bond issue in 2017 raised more than £650m of funding for McLaren, in addition to £130m through an earlier credit agreement.

It has plans to refinance its factory, the Norman Foster-designed McLaren Technology Centre, selling it to an investor before leasing it back.

McLaren Racing chairman Paul Walsh said: “Bringing partner capital and expertise into McLaren Racing will support the team’s return to the front of the grid and further strengthen our financial position.”

Among the investors in the group are private investment firm The Najafi Companies and UBS O’Connor, a hedge fund subsidiary of Swiss investment bank UBS.

As part of the deal, Jahm Najafi, chairman and chief executive of The Najafi Companies, will become a vice-chairman of McLaren Racing.

Jeff Moorad, principal of MSP, and Rodrigo Trelles Zabala of UBS O’Connor will join the McLaren Racing board as non-executive directors.

Moorad said: “We’re committed to assist the team in accomplishing its objective of returning to the front of the grid.”

Brown said on Saturday that McLaren is weighing up entries into the World Sportscar Championship and the all-electric Formula E series in the future.

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