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Thu 25 Jun 2009 11:57 AM

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McLaren could seek investment from Mideast

Sports car maker's regional chief says talks 'sure' to take place with region investors.

McLaren could seek investment from Mideast
CAR PLAN: Ian Gorsuch says McLaren Automotive is

Fledgling sports car manufacturer McLaren Automotive could turn to Middle East investors to help finance expansion and vehicle development, the company has revealed.

Ian Gorsuch, McLaren’s regional director for the Middle East and Africa, told Arabian Business that the company is seeking an additional investor to its three existing shareholders.

When asked whether talks with potential financiers in this region might take place, Gorsuch said: “I am sure there would be.”

He added: “I’m not privy to it, so I can’t comment but I would say yes, this would be a natural area [to sound out investors].

Ron Dennis, the Tag Group headed by Saudi entrepreneur Mansour Ojjeh, and Bahraini investment company Mumtalakat are the existing shareholders. It’s understood a fourth investor would hold a joint stake in the business worth a combined GBP250m ($414.6m).

McLaren Automotive is a UK-based spin-off from the McLaren Formula One team, which added Lewis Hamilton to its list of champions following the British driver’s success last year.

The company is developing its first batch of high performance sports cars that will be available in the Middle East in early 2011.

Some 1,000 vehicles will be initially produced, rising to 4,000 when McLaren Automotive finishes developing the first range of cars.

Gorsuch said the timing of the company’s launch, amid a global economic downturn that has hit several car manufacturers, was of no concern.

“In a way you could say this is the best time to do it. You do all the development work through the recession and the first cars will be arriving in the first quarter of 2011,” he said. “Most pundits say that’s when the economy will be picking up.

“I would like to say that was fantastic planning but it was complete serendipity. We believe it’s the right time and we believe this is the right thing for us to be doing.”

The company is scouring for retail partners to establish dealerships in Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Once McLaren Automotive is established, Gorsuch expects its Middle East operation to contribute around 10 percent in sales and revenues.

He said: “Middle Eastern customers tend to put very high specs on the cars, so values per car will probably be some of the highest in the world.

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