Private equity giant TPG in pole position to snap up £180m McLaren HQ

·3-min read

The private equity group TPG has moved into pole position to acquire the headquarters of McLaren Group, the British supercar manufacturer and Formula One team-owner.

Sky News has learnt that TPG, one of the world's biggest buyout firms, is in exclusive talks to buy the spectacular Surrey site for about £180m

The transaction, which could be finalised as soon as this month, will be structured as a sale-and-leaseback of the McLaren Technology Centre along with the rest of the group's base.

It will enable McLaren to continue occupying its home while raising money to strengthen a balance sheet which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal is being handled by Colliers, the property agent, and has attracted interest from a range of international investors.

McLaren has raised hundreds of millions of pounds in equity from existing shareholders since the start of the pandemic, as well as securing a £150m loan from the National Bank of Bahrain.

The company also sold a minority stake in its racing division to a consortium led by MSP Sports Capital.

A further equity-raise and debt refinancing , on which Goldman Sachs and HSBC are advising, are expected this year.

The famous British F1 outfit has struggled to recapture past glories but has started making material progress under the leadership of Zak Brown, who runs its racing operations.

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 Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Last year, McLaren cut 1,200 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 a year ago.

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.

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.

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.

McLaren and TPG declined to comment on Monday.