Supercar-Maker and F1 Giant McLaren Ousts Ron DennisBy
World autosport doyen reported to favor Chinese takeover
Mooted offer from Apple has so far failed to materialize
Motoring-racing patriarch Ron Dennis stood down as chief executive officer and chairman of McLaren Technology Group, saying rival investors had forced him out of the Formula 1 team turned supercar maker.
Dennis, reported to be leading a plan to sell MTG to a Chinese group for 1.65 billion pounds ($2.1 billion), said Tuesday he had quit McLaren’s management after 35 years as its “creative force” amid opposition to him from TAG Group Ltd. and the kingdom of Bahrain’s investment arm, which own 75 percent of the group’s stock.
Dennis, who has a 25 percent holding in MTG, said in a statement he reached his decision after the two shareholders placed him on enforced leave. The Briton, 69, added that he’ll honor commitments to the Woking, England-based group before founding a technology-investment fund of his own later in 2017.
TAG and Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co. had acted “despite the strong warnings from the rest of the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business,” Dennis said. He added that the grounds for his suspension were “entirely spurious” and that neither investor shared his “vision for McLaren and its true growth potential.”
Sky TV said Friday that Dennis had presented details of a proposed Chinese takeover to fellow shareholders, provoking an attempt to oust him. The offer might involve an asset manager and funding from private equity, Sky said, without revealing where it got the information.
Dennis, who didn’t mention the report in his statement, said he’ll continue to use his boardroom seats at MTG and McLaren Automotive Ltd., as the supercar arm is known, to protect the interests of the business and its 3,500 staff.
An anticipated investment in McLaren by Apple Inc. has so far failed to materialize. The U.S. company, eager for a new hit to replace the iPhone, has hundreds of engineers working on car design and while McLaren is a niche manufacturer with road cars priced from $200,000, it would deliver brand strength, advanced engineering and a portfolio of patents, analysts have said.
MTG’s McLaren Racing ranks behind only Ferrari NV by the number of Formula 1 driver’s championships won, having secured 20, 17 of them with Dennis as team principal.