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McLaren £200m cash boost could open the door for Latifi

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL33
© XPB 

McLaren Group has received a £200 million cash injection after selling 888,135 shares to the British Virgin Isles-based business Nidala Limited.

The holding company for McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive has been undergoing a restructure in recent months. Former executive director Zak Brown has just been formally promoted to the role of CEO on the racing side.

With disappointing on-track results in the last few seasons, the company has been forced to seek new investment to boost its accounts. However it insists that there is no danger of going out of business - or of pulling out of F1.

“Our shareholders have been in the sport a long time," Brown said last week in Barcelona. "They completely understand the sport.

"This year we’ve brought in more new [sponsorship] partners than anyone else," he added. "We all want to bring in as many sponsor partners as possible, but they also know it’s not that easy."

“They give us what we need to go racing," he pointed out. "They continue to invest in the racing team. So the more we bring in the more we can get.

"But we’re not strapped for money," he insisted. “We are on target for our financial goals for sponsorship revenue for this year."

However. mystery surrounds the identity of McLaren's latest big-money investors. F1 news website Racefans.net has speculated that it may be linked with current Formula 2 DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi.

The 22-year-old Canadian is the son of Michael Latifi, who is the CEO of major Canadian food conglomerate Sofina. Racefans suggests that he is one of the people with business interests in Nidala Limited.

It's even speculated that the company name itself is directly derived from the first two letters of each of the Force India test driver's full names, Nicholas Daniel Latifi.

However, McLaren was not willing to answer questions about whether the new cash investment carries a condition to hand Latifi a Formula 1 race seat in the near future.

“We aren’t at liberty to disclose details of the investor," a statement from the team said. "This is, as you will know, not uncommon practice."

If the reports do prove to have substance, it wouldn't be the first time that a team has accepted a large investment in return for putting a driver behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll has pumped in a sizeable sum into Williams over recent seasons to help his son Lance get a competitive drive in Grand Prix racing.

Williams also have title sponsorship from Martini, although that is due to expire at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile McLaren itself is currently without a title sponsor, although the Woking-based business insists that this isn't a big priority for them at present.

"We don’t want a title sponsor," Brown said. "But let me clarify what that means: we do want a principal partner, which is title-level branding.

"I don’t think we will have a principal partner going into this season.

"We definitely want one. We want to get back to where we were in sponsorship over a three to four year period.

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