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Ron Dennis says he will fight on at McLaren

On the outer: Ron Dennis might no longer be CEO and chairman of McLaren Group, but he has pledged to use his shareholding and board position to continue to influence the McLaren supercar business.

Axed McLaren boss Dennis promises to stay in driver’s seat at supercar business

McLaren logo16 Nov 2016

FORMULA ONE team legend Ron Dennis has pledged to continue to influence McLaren's road supercar and technology businesses, despite being forced out of management positions in McLaren Group – and consequently its McLaren Racing offshoot – by fellow shareholders.

Mr Dennis, 69, was sent on gardening leave from his positions of CEO and chairman of McLaren Group until his contract expires in the New Year.

That contract will not be renewed, apparently because Bahrain's Mumtalakat government investment fund – which owns 50 per cent of the company – and Saudi-born TAG owner Mansour Ojjeh (25 per cent) decided his management style did not suit the new direction of the organisation.

After unsuccessfully challenging the move in Britain’s High Court, Mr Dennis released a statement saying the shareholder claims were “entirely spurious”.

“My management style is the same as it has always been and is one that has enabled McLaren to become an automotive and technology group that has won 20 Formula One world championships and grown into an £850 million ($A1401m) a year business,” he said.

Mr Dennis, who joined McLaren in 1980 and took full control in 1981, said it had become clear to him that neither TAG nor Mumtalakat shared his vision for McLaren and its “true growth potential”.

“But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3500 employees,” he said. “I will continue to use my significant shareholding in both companies (McLaren Automotive and McLaren Technology) and my seats on both boards to protect the interests and value of McLaren and help shape its future.

“In addition I intend to launch a new technology investment fund once my contractual commitments with McLaren expire.

“This will capitalise on my expertise, my financial resources, together with external investment to pursue the many commercial opportunities I have been offered in recent years but have been unable to take up while being so committed to the existing business.”

Mr Dennis retains 25 per cent of McLaren Group. He also controls 11 per cent of McLaren Automotive, which was spun off from McLaren Group in 2010, and 25 per cent of McLaren Technology Group.

The majority shareholder of all three businesses is Mumtalakat, which bought into the organisation in 2007.

According to European reports, friction between the McLaren partners has been growing since Mr Dennis failed to replace F1 team major sponsor Vodafone which left at the end of the 2013 season.

The BBC reports that American Zak Brown, who specialises in F1 commercial deals, is the most likely successor to Mr Dennis at McLaren Group.

Mr Dennis has been involved in high-level motorsport for 50 years, starting as an 18-year-old mechanic with the Cooper team in 1966. Famously, he worked with Australian three-time world champion Sir Jack Brabham from 1968.

At 32, he took control of the F1 team founded by New Zealand champion Bruce McLaren, in 1981, beginning one of the most successful eras of F1 domination by any team.

With drivers such as Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton, Mr Dennis guided the team to a further 17 titles with 158 grand prix wins.

Sponsor TAG became a shareholder 1984, with France-based TAG owner Mansour Ojjeh becoming Mr Dennis’s long-time business partner. That partnership has apparently soured, with Mr Ojjeh siding with the Bahraini investment fund to oust the Brit.

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