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McLaren to sell Woking headquarters

On the market: McLaren’s Woking headquarters is up for sale as the company feels the financial impact of the coronavirus.

Need for cash prompts McLaren to seek $A350m-plus sale and lease back the building

15 Sep 2020

EXOTIC car-maker McLaren plans to sell its UK headquarters for more than $A350 million and lease back the premises as it shores up its business against the effects of the pandemic which has caused falling sales and production to halt earlier in the year.


Its headquarters, near Woking in Surrey, were designed by respected architect Norman Foster and built in 2003. It comprises three buildings on 50 hectares of land.


McLaren chief executive Zak Brown said a sale would allow the company to reduce debt and boost cash at hand and that “we’re not a real estate company, we’re a racing team and an automotive company”.


“When Covid-19 hit and that turned off our Formula One business, our automotive business and to a certain extent our technology business, that consumed an immediate amount of cash that we needed to call,” Mr Brown said.


“We've now done that and we've got plenty of runway to be able to make sound business decisions.”


McLaren has made no secret of its need to increase its working capital. In June it took on a $A263 million finance facility from Bahrain’s national bank and announced 1200 employees – of its total of 4000 people – would be made redundant.


In March, existing shareholders raised $A527 million of additional equity to oversee a financial restructuring.


McLaren said in a statement that a sale and leaseback of its headquarters “and the appointment of banks to advise us on a debt restructuring and equity raise” were part of a refinancing strategy announced earlier in the year.


“These initiatives will deliver a stronger balance sheet and ensure that McLaren Group has a sustainable platform for long-term growth and investment,” it said.


“The proposed sale and leaseback mirrors best practice among leading companies and will have no impact on our day-to-day operations.”


It said the property would remain McLaren’s home in the future. The McLaren Campus consists of the McLaren Technology Centre, McLaren Production Centre and the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre.


The complex, regarded as architecturally spectacular, has the McLaren collection of classic vehicles, a wind tunnel for testing its cars, the production facility and numerous artificial lakes. It has featured in films including the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

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