A London-based hedge fund millionaire is helping to finance the “final” search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft which disappeared nearly four years ago, in a bid to solve one of modern aviation’s greatest mysteries.
Sky News has learnt that Anthony Clake, an executive at Marshall Wace Asset Management, is the key figure behind Ocean Infinity, the subsea exploration company which won the contract to hunt for the whereabouts of Flight MH370.
Mr Clake, who oversees billions of pounds of clients’ money at Marshall Wace, is understood to have invested in Ocean Infinity after being impressed by its advanced technology.
The search for MH370, which vanished in March 2014 with 239 people on board, was halted a year ago, having already cost an estimated $150m and covered tens of thousands of square miles of ocean seabed.
Ocean Infinity, which is based in Houston, Texas, has offered to conduct the latest search on the basis that it will be paid only if it discovers the plane’s wreckage.
Malaysia’s government has agreed to pay the company, which also has a number of unidentified minority investors, up to $70m if it does locate MH370 within 90 days.
Ocean Infinity is being assisted in the search by Swire Seabed, which is supplying the host vessel and is responsible for project management, survey support, processing and reporting, according to a spokesman.
Mr Clake’s involvement in the hunt for MH370 is restricted to a financing role at Ocean Infinity, and he has no day-to-day role in the operation.
“Anthony Clake has made a private investment in Ocean Infinity and is one of a number of shareholders in the company,” the spokesman said.
Mr Clake’s investment in the subsea explorer is one of a number he has made outside of his role at Marshall Wace, which is one of the City’s leading hedge funds.
Mr Clake is also the majority shareholder in Heathrow Hub, the architect of a plan that would avoid the need to build a new third runway at London’s busiest airport.
If that option had been chosen by the Government, he had pledged to donate any after-tax profits to youth and environmental charities in London.
A source close to Mr Clake said that he remained an investor in Heathrow Hub.
The latest search for the wreckage of MH370 is covering an area of the Indian Ocean identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
Three pieces of debris have previously been identified as coming from the missing aircraft, but the main body of the plane has never been found.
MH370 disappeared from radar en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, but most of the resources poured into the unprecedented search exercises have focused on areas far from the anticipated course of that flight.
In a statement earlier this month, Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s chief executive, said: “Whilst there can be no guarantee of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well-suited to the task at hand.
“I wish our team the best of luck in their endeavours and sincerely hope that we will be able to play a part in providing some answers to the many people affected by this tragedy.”
Mr Clake declined to comment directly.