A management buy-in (MBI) team led by ex-Lotus General Manager, Ansar Ali, and backed by Corven Ventures, the private equity arm of the consulting and corporate finance firm Corven Group, has bought Caterham Cars for an undisclosed sum.
Caterham is the pre-eminent sports car manufacturer in its sector producing lightweight, affordable road and racecars with supercar performance. The company’s heritage stems from the legendary Lotus Seven sports car acquired from Lotus Cars in 1973. Over the last 30 years Caterham, headed by its founder Graham Nearn and subsequently by his son, Simon, have successfully developed the Caterham Seven. Today, the company sells more than 500 cars a year in over 15 countries, generating a turnover in excess of £15 million.
In October 2004 Caterham launched its exciting new Caterham Seven CSR model, which draws its power from two bespoke high performance engine variants from Cosworth Racing. The CSR not only establishes a new benchmark in handling and performance, but also renews an alliance with racing legend Cosworth, who return to the road car market after a ten-year absence.
The MBI team will bring sector experience to compliment the existing Caterham management. Ansar Ali as Managing Director is joined by Gideon Wigger, another ex Lotus manager, as Operations Director, and by David Obertelli as Finance Director. James Basden (founding Director of Corven) and Mark Edwards (Director of Corven Ventures), both of whom have extensive automotive experience, will join the board as Non-Executive Chairman and Non-Executive Director respectively. Outgoing Caterham Cars Managing Director, Simon Nearn, will continue to assist the new management team on a consultancy basis. The combined management will seek to underpin the fundamentals of the business and drive the Caterham brand forward to meet customer demands whilst enhancing profitability.
Ansar Ali commented, "This is a unique opportunity and one that places on me a responsibility to ensure that we remain true custodians of the Caterham legend and brand. I am looking forward to the challenge of harnessing the inherent capabilities of the business – its employees, suppliers and partners - in order to continue to deliver sector leading products, outstanding customer value and financial returns to our shareholders and partners."
Simon Nearn commented, "For a number of years we have been seeking inward investment to support the ever spiralling cost of new product development. I am delighted to announce the conclusion of this process, which sees the arrival of a highly experienced new management team, backed by a level of financial commitment that will ultimately enable the Caterham Brand to realise its full potential.
"Caterham Cars has until now been a strictly family business and although it has grown significantly in recent years, a shared sense of purpose and an infectious enthusiasm for the product has driven us as a team. Ansar and his colleagues not only recognise this dedication, but also share our enthusiasm for the Seven. They are ideally placed to begin the next chapter in the Caterham story."
Chairman and founder Graham Nearn added, "It is clearly an emotional time for many of those who have contributed to the success of the business over the last four decades, and it is both reassuring and fitting that the new owners of the business should come from Lotus, where of course the Seven story began. That this should happen at a time when our historic links with Cosworth are being renewed seems particularly appropriate".Published 17 January 2005