Dennis formally splits with McLaren after selling shares

McLaren has confirmed a final split with Ron Dennis, with the former team boss selling his shareholdings in McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive, and relinquishing his directorships of both.

Dennis formally splits with McLaren after selling shares
Ron Dennis, McLaren Executive Chairman on the grid
Ron Dennis and Norbert Haug enjoy David Coulthard's encouraging practice session
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman, McLaren Automotive
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32

A new holding company, McLaren Group, will have both the aforementioned under its umbrella. McLaren says that Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company and TAG Group will remain as majority McLaren Group shareholders.

There are no further details of the transaction, although a statement from McLaren said: “McLaren Group has secured finance in order to acquire Ron Dennis’s shareholdings, stimulate growth in its wider businesses and consolidate its financial arrangements.” Sky News has reported that Dennis will earn £275m from the deal.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa will be the executive chairman of the McLaren Group.

Dennis first became involved with McLaren in September 1980, when sponsor Philip Morris brokered a merger between the struggling team and his own fledgling Project 4 F1 outfit.

On his watch, the team won world championships with Niki Lauda, (1984) Alain Prost (1985, ‘86 and ‘89), Ayrton Senna (1988, ‘90, and ‘91), Mika Hakkinen (1998 and ‘99) and Lewis Hamilton (2008).

Dennis first took a step back last November, when he gave up his role as chairman and CEO of the McLaren Technology Group.

At the time he said: “I am disappointed that the representatives of TAG and Mumtalakat, the other main shareholders in McLaren, 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.”

There have been obvious doubts about his long-term involvement with the company since, and he has not been seen at any grands prix this year. 

However, his official split with the team has gone through with a greater spirit of cooperation between the two parties, announced by a lengthy Friday statement in which Dennis outlined his plans.

He said: “I am very pleased to have reached agreement with my fellow McLaren shareholders. It represents a fitting end to my time at McLaren, and will enable me to focus on my other interests.

"I have always said that my 37 years at Woking should be considered as a chapter in the McLaren book, and I wish McLaren every success as it takes the story forward.

“Perhaps my greatest satisfaction is the Formula 1 team’s outstanding racing safety record, which is a tribute to the dedication and efforts of hundreds if not thousands of talented and conscientious employees whom I have had the privilege of leading.

Dennis added: “Now that my time at McLaren has come to an end, I will be able to involve myself in a series of other programmes and activities, especially those focused on public service.

“Last but far from least, I wish McLaren well, and I send my greatest thanks and best wishes to my colleagues in all corners of its business, and at every level of seniority. Truly, they are the best of the best.

"And, well funded to succeed and grow, and led by an ambitious management team, McLaren is ideally poised to build on the successes that I am so proud to have contributed to during my time leading such a great British group of companies.”

Meanwhile, new McLaren Group head Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa said: “There will be time in the near future to outline our plans, for the coming months and years will be an extremely exciting time in the story of McLaren.

"But now, today, it is appropriate that we pause to express our gratitude to Ron. So, on behalf of McLaren and all who sail in her, may I say three heartfelt words: thank you Ron.”

McLaren Group

Explaining the thinking behind the formation of the new holding company, McLaren said: “The announcement unifies all activities under a single coordinated strategy and brand, allowing the exceptional reputation of each business for technological excellence to be used across the entire Group for the benefit of all its customers, partners and employees.”

Majority shareholder Mansour Ojjeh of TAG insisted that unification under the McLaren Group banner was the correct way forward for the companies.

“Since I became a major investor in the business 33 years ago, I am exceptionally proud of what each of our extraordinary McLaren businesses have achieved, growing independently and entrepreneurially,” he said.

“Now, as they have reached world-class scale and success, it is the right next step to unify the strategies and brands to create a stronger centre of Luxury Automotive, Racing and Technological excellence.”

He added of the F1 team: “McLaren Racing, part of McLaren Technology Group, is not currently achieving the on-track success in Formula 1 that we know it is capable of, and that it has achieved in the past, but that will change.

“As motor racing is in our DNA, we exist to win in Formula 1 and be the best in everything we do. Jonathan Neale and Zak Brown, supported by Eric Boullier and the best engineers, mechanics and marketers in Formula 1, are fully engaged in the process of bringing about that turnaround, and it will be great to see McLaren back in the winners’ circle before too long.”

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