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McLaren denies Apple stake talks

Core business: McLaren’s latest offering, the 570GT, might have been launched in Pebble Beach, California, recently, but that does not mean the British company has been chatting to Apple in nearby Silicon Valley.

Apple Mac not going to happen, says UK supercar builder McLaren

22 Sep 2016

BRITAIN’S McLaren Technology Group has denied a Financial Times report that Californian tech giant Apple has approached the supercar builder and formula one race team owner for talks about a potential acquisition.

The newspaper says it had spoken with three people briefed on the negotiations who claimed talks started several months ago, suggesting the move is designed to speed development of Apple’s all-electric self-driving “iCar”.

But McLaren issued a denial, saying: “We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The report spread like wildfire through the motor industry, with many pundits pointing to the recent departure of dozens of employees from Apple’s car project as suggesting that at least part of the iCar effort might be outsourced to another company.

It is unclear if the negotiations were supposedly about a full takeover or strategic investment in McLaren, which is a leader in automotive electronics and light-weight chassis construction from materials such as carbon fibre.

According to the Financial Times, Apple is said to have decided to concentrate on underlying systems to power and guide the self-driving car rather than build an electric vehicle itself.

This would be a departure for Apple which, through products such as its iPhone and Apple Watch, likes to control both the technology and hardware of its wares.

The iCar project reportedly has been underway in Silicon Valley since 2014, and has involved hundreds of engineers.

Like fellow tech giants Google and Tesla, Apple plans to be a disrupter to the current automotive industry, but needs sound automotive engineering to overcome various hurdles.

Based in Woking, McLaren is owned by one-time racing engineer Ron Dennis, along with Saudi-born entrepreneur Mansour Ojjeh and a Bahraini wealth fund.

McLaren Technology owns 80 per cent of McLaren Automotive which produced 1654 high-end sportscars last year.

Although McLaren has been losing money, it has announced it will press on with a $1.7 billion investment in its future products.

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