Perhaps not as the British automotive brand denies reports of a takeover bid by the technology giant – although it concedes that confidential discussions with several parties have taken place.
Apple usurping McLaren was – as reported by the Financial Times this week – claimed to have been a £1.5 billion (AU $2.5b) proposition and according to three internal sources negotiations have been ongoing without a result.
However, a McLaren spokesperson has since addressed the claims, choosing to cite no ‘investment’ from Apple rather than specifying no ‘involvement’: “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.”
FT reported that Apple planned to use a McLaren acquisition to fuel development of the iCar, its planned all-electric autonomous vehicle that has been in Silicon Valley secrecy for two years, using its expertise for power systems rather than to build the vehicle.
Although the McLaren Formula One team utilise Honda power units, McLaren Automotive has form with electric vehicle technology with the P1 hypercar, which also boasts F1-derived aerodynamic and carbonfibre construction technologies – both of which are seen as crucial to maximising the efficiency of an electric car.
It is unclear whether Apple wanted to take an entire chunk of McLaren Technology Group – which has an 80 per cent share of McLaren Automotive – or carve out a slice in an ownership pie currently divided between Ron Dennis and Tag Group’s Mansour Ojjeh (25 per cent each), and Middle Eastern wealth fund owner Bahrain Mumtalakat (50 per cent).
Apple has form in honing in on the automotive space, however, having purchased Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing at the start of the year.
Several reports have also claimed the iCar has faced multiple setbacks with several employees disposed and a greater number of engineers with automotive company experience employed.
Multiple global analysts have claimed the widespread reports of the flailing iCar has affected Apple, which typically runs a watertight PR machine and is seen as perhaps the most successful technology company in the world, and buying McLaren would give the Californian-based mobile and computer outfit credibility in the automotive space.
McLaren Automotive will spend £1bn on research and development in six years – but whether Apple gets a chance to bite into that investment remains to be seen.
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