Leading shareholders in the UK’s 100-year-old sportscar maker, AC Cars, have created a consortium based on the Meditteranean island of Malta to own the company and plan to move some production there, the Financial Times (FT) said.

The FT said the venture has financial support from the Malta Development Corporation, with additional long-term operating funding provided by Volkswagen Financial Services Australia.

However, the newspaper said, neither the Maltese agency nor VW’s Australian financial services arm has an equity stake in the new company, called AC Motor Holdings.

The FT said that production at AC’s Frimley plant in Surrey, south-east England, has virtually ground to a halt in recent weeks while company chairman and leading shareholder Alan Lubinsky tried to find additional funding.

The Financial Times said Lubinsky has blamed prolonged disruption arising from when the factory was moved – from Weybridge, also in Surrey in November last year – for most of AC’s problems.

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The FT said AC was placed under a voluntary creditors’ arrangement in early June after accumulating debts of some £9 million (about $US14 million).

Some 80% of the debt was owed to existing shareholders, mostly private individual investors like Lubinsky, the newspaper added.

Many retain a stake in the Malta-based holding company, the FT said, with Lubinsky continuing as chairman and chief executive.

The Financial Times said production of aluminium-bodied cars will remain at Frimley but those with carbon-fibre bodies – including a new coupe called the Mamba – will be transferred to Malta.

AC hopes to produce up to 200 Mambas a year, retailing them at £40,000-£70,000 each, using 40 workers in Malta, the Financial Times said.