Lloyds Banking Group is in talks to buy a minority share holding in Manor Motorsport, one of the new teams set to join the FIA F1 World Championship next year.

According to reports by British broadsheet newspaper The Times, the UK high-street lender, which is around 40 per cent owned by the taxpayer, is looking to 'invest' around ?15 million for a 'minority share'.

The deal is being led by LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds and if something is agreed, the bank will not have its name on the Manor car.

"They are not doing this for the sponsorship or the glamour," a source close to LDC allegedly told the 'paper. "This is about backing a strong management team in a specialist engineering business."

If Lloyds does invest in Manor though, it will not be without controversy, especially given the current economic climate.

"Many customers will find it impossible to understand why, when Lloyds is cutting back on lending to thousands of small but sound British companies, they have money to spend on vanity projects of this kind," Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman added in the same report.

For the record, Manor has already been linked to a number of companies - most notably Virgin and it is thought a deal with Sir Richard Branson could be announced at the Abu Dhabi finale in two weeks time. Indeed F1 insiders suggest the outfit could be named 'Virgin F1' for 2010.

More to follow as and when we get it...


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