Ron Dennis agrees to sell McLaren stake, exit company

Ron Dennis

Ron Dennis

Six months after his ouster as CEO at McLaren Technology Group due to a spat with fellow shareholders, Ron Dennis is now set to leave the company he helped craft over the past four decades.

Dennis has agreed to sell his 25 percent stake, with the value estimated to be $358 million. As part of the transition, the McLaren Technology Group has been renamed the McLaren Group.

The other shareholders include Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh with another 25 percent through his TAG Group holding company, and the Bahraini government which has the remaining 50 percent. They both remain as majority shareholders in the private entity. Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, a representative of the Bahraini government, will serve as chairman.

The McLaren Group is the parent company of numerous businesses, including the McLaren Formula One team and McLaren Automotive road car business.

The falling out between Dennis and the other shareholders is thought to be centered on disagreement on the future strategy for McLaren. Dennis wanted to further expand the company by seeking new investors, potentially including Chinese interests. It may explain last September’s report of Apple being in talks to buy the company in a deal worth $1.94 billion.

Dennis was placed on gardening leave last November. The period lasted until his contact for the CEO position expired at the end of 2016. American marketing guru Zak Brown was hired to run the company following Dennis’ ouster.

“[The other shareholders] have forced through this decision to place me on gardening leave, despite the strong warnings from the rest of the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business,” Dennis said at the time. “Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither TAG [Ojjeh ] nor Mumtalakat [Bahraini government] share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential.”

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It was in 1980 that Dennis joined the McLaren F1 team, which was struggling at the time. Dennis and his business partners ended up buying the team the following year and over the coming decades would turn it into a billion-dollar venture. During his tenure, McLaren has enjoyed seven of its eight Constructors’ titles and 10 of its 12 Drivers’ titles, the most recent earned by Lewis Hamilton in 2008. The team been struggling in recent years and since teaming up with Honda in 2015 has been a backmarker.

Since Dennis’ ouster, we’ve seen two other senior staff leave. They include Jost Capito, who was CEO of the F1 team, and Frank Stephenson, who was design boss for the road car business.

Rumor has it that McLaren, or at least the road car division, is considering going public with a share market listing. It may explain the major changes taking place behind the scenes at the company.

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