McLaren take legal action to try to secure 'urgent' refinancing

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
A sign with the McLaren logo outside the group's headquarters in Woking, Surrey
The McLaren Group is based in Woking in Surrey

McLaren has taken legal action to allow it to secure "urgent" refinancing to address what it says is "severe and unexpected financial difficulty".

The company blames coronavirus for an "impending liquidity shortfall" which it says requires new funds to be injected "no later than 17 July".

The claims are made in documents from a court case launched to stop a group of creditors blocking its plans.

McLaren is seeking loans secured on its factory and historic car collection.

But a group of investors says that the McLaren Technology Centre and its heritage collection are already employed as security in a bond launched in 2017.

The court documents say the bond, the details of which are the subject of the court case, raised more than £650m worth of funding for the business.

An earlier credit agreement of £130m "is now fully drawn", according to the court documents.

The documents add that McLaren's shareholders injected a further £291m into the business in March this year, which was intended to "provide the group with ample liquidity in order to fund its business plan". This is part of a total of £500m invested by shareholders into McLaren in the past 18 months.

McLaren says this has now been spent as a direct result of the effect on business of the coronavirus pandemic.

The High Court case is an attempt by McLaren to secure a declaration that it is able to use the items in question as collateral or saleable assets.

Some of the existing bondholders are unhappy about the plan, which they see as undermining the security of their own lending.

McLaren last week was granted an expedited hearing in London to determine whether its proposed refinancing could go ahead. This is due to take place next week.

McLaren says in the documents that the pandemic has "created a severe strain on the group's cash flow".

The documents add: "The scale and impact of the pandemic quickly became apparent to the senior management of the (McLaren) group.

"The pandemic has had a massive and detrimental effect on the group's trading performance.

"The start of the F1 season has been delayed. Car dealerships have temporarily closed; supplies have been interrupted; manufacturing has been suspended or impeded; customer orders have declined; sponsorship revenues have fallen and additional costs have arisen from health and safety measures."

The McLaren Group is majority owned by Mumtalakat, the sovereign wealth fund of the Bahraini royal family. Its other main shareholders are French-born Saudi billionaire Mansour Ojjeh and the Canadian supermarket magnate Michael Latifi, whose son Nicholas is racing for the Williams team in F1 this year.

The group comprises three parts - Racing, the historic Formula 1 team that was set up in 1966 and a newly established IndyCar outfit; Automotive, which makes high-performance road cars; and Applied Technologies.

McLaren, which last month announced plans to cut 1,200 jobs, says that the £280m it intends to raise "would be sufficient for the Group to be able to support its operations into 2021".

The trustees of the bondholders have proposed an alternative refinancing arrangement.

McLaren's case is that their claim is "without any merit".

McLaren applied for a £150m business continuity loan from the government earlier this year but was turned down because it did not meet the criteria.

A spokesman for McLaren said the company was not able to comment given these are ongoing legal proceedings.

Mumtalakat on Monday announced its consolidated financial results for 2019.

It said its operating income had increased by 211% to £267m, with revenues increasing by 11% to reach £4.9bn, compared to £4.5bn in 2018.

Its net result was a £112.8m loss, which it said "did not represent a cash loss but rather a reduction in the value of goodwill on Mumtalakat's books of accounts".

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