Apple, the computer company, is in talks to buy McLaren, the supercar and race car company, according to a report from the Financial Times. Apple has been attempting to develop its own car for a while now, and this would appear to be a huge change in its direction.
UPDATE 1:04 PM EST: McLaren is throwing water on the rumors, completely denying an Apple acquisition of the company. Check out our full story here for more details. The original post is below.
It could either be a major investment or an outright purchase of the company, the FT reports:
The California technology group, which has been working on a self-driving electric vehicle for more than two years, is considering a full takeover of McLaren or a strategic investment, according to three people briefed on the negotiations who said talks started several months ago.
It would definitely be a bit of a weird tie-up on the surface. Apple, by all indications, has been looking to make electric self-driving cars for a while. McLarens, as we can personally attest, are best enjoyed when a person is driving.
For the uninitiated, the small but scrappy Woking, England-based company has been making expensive, high-performance supercars and Formula One race cars for decades. Responsible for a car that was the fastest in the world for many years, the McLaren F1, it now positions itself as a tech company that happens to make cars and specializes in things like hybrid powertrains, lightweight materials and aerodynamic advancements.
But there’s way more to McLaren than meets the untrained eye. Not only is the successor to the vaunted McLaren P1 rumored to be electric, but the company itself maintains operations far beyond what you would initially think. Its Applied Technologies Group supplies electronics to everyone from Formula One to NASCAR, and it has done extensive work on data center optimization.
It also has an associated catering company.
Apple’s own car ambitions – rumored to be dubbed “Project Titan” – have taken some strange turns as of late. While it looked to be developing a new vehicle from the ground up for the past two years, it was recently reported to be laying off some staff, reshuffling its own executives, and re-tooling the entire project. A move to buy McLaren might just be the biggest push in that new direction.
McLaren is owned by Ron Dennis, the team principal of its Formula One team since 1981, company chairman Mansour Ojjeh, and the sovereign wealth fund of the nation of Bahrain. Dennis and Ojjeh have both owned large stakes in the company for more than thirty years, but Bahrain is a new investor, and is likely looking for a return on its money.
In 2014 the company posted revenue of £475 million and a pre-tax profit of £15 million, a massive 233 percent increase over 2013's numbers. But as the FT notes, McLaren’s most recent published financial documents from 2014 indicate losses, Bahrain may be looking to make some money by selling the company.
More as we have it.