Singapore tycoon takes stake in McLaren Automotive

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A Singaporean tycoon has taken a "significant" stake in McLaren Automotive, the British high-performance sports car maker said Friday in move aimed to boost its Asian expansion plans.

Peter Lim, a billionaire businessman who made his fortune through stockbroking, "has completed a significant investment in the company", McLaren said in a statement on its website.

Lim will join the company's board of directors with immediate effect, said the statement, which did not give the size of the Asian tycoon's investment.

It said getting Lim on board is part of McLaren's strategy to expand into the lucrative Asian market for its range of high-performance sports cars.

"With Peter Lims investment, McLaren marks another major milestone in its global growth strategy," the company said.

His membership in the firm's board "will strengthen the companys corporate and trading influence in the region at a time of encouraging demand for the companys first 'pure' McLaren sports car, the MP4-12C", it added.

McLaren said demand for the sports car from the Asia Pacific was "strong", with orders accounting for 18 months of production.

Lim, a sports enthusiast, made headlines last year when he offered 320 million pounds ($528.45 million) in cash to buy Liverpool. He also offered an extra 40 million pounds for the acquisition of players.

Liverpool were eventually sold to New England Sports Ventures, the owner of baseball's Boston Red Sox in the United States.

Lim, a self-confessed Manchester United fan, is also rumoured to be a potential investor if the English Premier League title-holders push through with plans to list in the Singapore stock market later this year.

McLaren is designing, developing and manufacturing exclusive and premium 'pure' McLaren sports cars and selling and servicing the range through a global retail network.

It has started distributing the first MP4-12Cs to retailers and customers in the UK and mainland Europe.

Distribution in the Asia Pacific region is expected from late-2011. The retail network is set to expand from 2012, including further growth in Asia, the company said.

Lim's McLaren stake is the latest high-profile investment by an Asian tycoon in a Western company.

On Thursday, Queens Park Rangers said that Tony Fernandes, owner of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia, had completed his takeover of the newly promoted Premier League club.

Fernandes, who is also the team principal of Formula One's Team Lotus, secured his buyout after assuming a 66 percent stake from previous shareholders Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore.

© 2011 AFP

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