Supercar Acquisition

Acquiring an exotic or supercar can involve a substantial financial commitment. As with any high-value asset, there are many specialist companies seeking to provide assistance, especially financial assistance.

Structuring the finance for the purchase of an exotic or supercar

Acquiring an exotic or supercar can involve a substantial financial commitment. As with any high-value asset, there are many specialist companies seeking to provide assistance, especially financial assistance. This abundance of resources can be beneficial for potential purchasers, who can take advantage of the breadth of choice and competition in a congested marketplace. Finance providers have developed new products with a host of useful features, but they also come with conditions of which purchasers need to be aware. One might think that owners of supercars don’t require the use of finance to acquire such trophy assets, but these purchases frequently are financed. After all, why tie up large amounts of cash in a potentially depreciating asset when you could be using that money to generate returns that cover the repayments? According to the podcast This is Money, JBR Capital, a leading prestige car finance provider in the U.K., says that by financing their luxury vehicles, the uber-rich can avoid spending large lumps of cash. According to JBR Capital, “In many cases, these are entrepreneurs and business owners who have strong asset wealth but don’t necessarily meet the tick-box approach of lenders, as they may keep a relatively low cash flow or continually put their readily available cash into investments and assets.” SGR regularly advises its high net worth clients about the ins and outs of acquiring high-value cars, whether purchasing to add to a collection or to invest and eventually “flip” the vehicle. Financing commonly takes the form of hire purchase or lease purchase.

Hire Purchase

An installment plan, the amount financed is the difference between the deposit paid and the purchase price. Repayments are calculated based on the number of months over which the debt is to be repaid. Title passes to the buyer once the final installment of the financed amount is paid. This finance method is popular given its straightforward nature and the relatively large number of finance providers.

Lease Purchase

This finance method is commonly used for classic car finance and is characterized by a low monthly repayment profile and a balloon payment at the end of the finance period. If the purchaser has chosen wisely, a quality classic car can be expected to gain in value, such that the balloon payment at the end of the term is covered when the car is flipped.

SECURING A FINANCIAL INTEREST IN AN INTERNATIONAL VEHICLE SALE

The logistics of acquiring and registering an exotic car can be complex, as demonstrated by a transaction that SGR’s Jonathan Russell recently handled on behalf of a New Zealand-based financier.

Early in 2018, I was contacted by a financier from New Zealand whose client had borrowed against a very rare Aston Martin. The client was looking to sell the car and had determined that to obtain the highest sale price, the car should be transported from New Zealand to London for sale in London’s Mayfair. The financier was very concerned that, by allowing the car to leave New Zealand, it would be jeopardizing its ability as a secured lender to repossess the car should the owner default under the terms of its financing. Or, even worse, the owner could potentially sell the car and fail to repay the debt.

SGR advised the financier on how to take a security interest in the car while it was in the U.K., provided guidance on registering its interest under the terms of various insurance policies, and established an escrow payment mechanism to ensure the outstanding debt was repaid at the time of sale.

Seemingly all quite simple … except for the fact that the legislation in the U.K. was slightly out of date, to put it mildly, with respect to securing highly mobile, high-value assets. The security instruments available to the financier were contained in the Bills of Sale Act (1878) and an 1882 amendment. As the principal legislation was more than 140 years old, it did not easily translate to a security interest in a multi-milliondollar supercar being transported from New Zealand to London for sale. The provisions of the Act were so archaic they required that all documents had to be signed in London before an officer of the court (legislation to amend and modernize the Bills of Sale Act 1878 had been delayed to due to the ongoing legislative meltdown caused by Brexit). This requirement meant the car owner had to fly to London to sign the security documentation.

Once all obstacles had been cleared, the car arrived in the U.K. and sold for well above its expected asking price. The owner and financier parted company on good terms.

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