In spat with shareholders, Ron Dennis loses head role at McLaren

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Ron Dennis

Ron Dennis

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The rumors that emerged in October suggesting Ron Dennis was about to leave McLaren after 36 years have proven true.

The 69-year-old, Chairman, CEO and founder of the McLaren Technology Group, is set to leave the company once his current contract expires at the end of 2016. He has been placed on gardening leave in the interim.

Dennis will, however, maintain his membership on the boards of the McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive, the road car business.

The McLaren Technology Group is responsible for the McLaren Formula One team, founded by New Zealander Bruce McLaren in the 1960s, as well as McLaren Automotive and numerous other businesses. It’s a private company, with Dennis owning  25 percent of the shares. His business partner Mansour Ojjeh owns another 25 percent through his TAG Group holding company and the remaining 50 percent is owned by the Bahrain government’s Mumtalakat investment fund.

Dennis’ ouster from the head role is due to a disagreement between himself and the other shareholders. The battle even went to court with Dennis ultimately losing last week. It’s thought that Dennis wanted to further expand the company and was seeking new investors, including Chinese interests, to buy out the other shareholders. It may explain September’s report of Apple [NSDQ:AAPL] being in talks to buy the company in a deal worth £1.5 billion (approximately $1.94 billion.

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 slowly built it up from there. 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. Unfortunately, the team been struggling in recent years and since teaming up with Honda in 2015 has been among the backmarkers.

Dennis’ full statement is reproduced below:

“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.

“The grounds they have stated are 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 a year business. Throughout that time I have worked closely with a series of talented colleagues to keep McLaren at the cutting edge of technology, to whom I will always be extremely grateful.

“Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither TAG nor Mumtalakat share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential. But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3,500 employees. I will continue to use my significant shareholding in both companies and my seats on both boards to protect the interests and value of McLaren and help shape its future.”

 
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