Supercar maker McLaren denies Apple takeover talks

Emma Haslett
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24 Hours of Le Mans
McLaren is potentially an attractive takeover target (Source: Getty)

British supercar maker McLaren has denied it is in talks with Apple after it was suggested the Californian tech giant had made a takeover approach for all or part of its business.

The Financial Times reported today the tech giant had approached McLaren Technology Group about either an acquisition or to take a strategic investment in the company.

But a spokesman for the company today told City A.M. it wasn't in talks with the company.

"McLaren can confirm we are not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment," he said.

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McLaren not only runs a Formula One team and makes supercars, which retail at upwards of £100,000, but it also runs McLaren Applied Technologies, which uses data from Formula One to improve performance in other fields.

The report suggested the pair have been in talks for several months - although Apple said it doesn't comment on rumours or speculation.

Driverless cars

Why would Apple want to buy McLaren? It was suggested such an acquisition could help push forward Apple's rumoured driverless car project, although McLaren has flatly denied working on a driverless car in the past.

In March Mike Flewitt, McLaren Automotive's chief executive, told City A.M. it had started investigating some autonomous safety features, such as radar cruise control - although had no plans to launch a fully autonomous vehicle.

"Our customers aren't asking for it," he said.

However, he confirmed it had begun work on a fully electric supercar, saying the company was working on an "early prototype" of a fully electric powertrain.

Shareholder reception

Apple shares ticked up modestly on the news, rising as high as $113.60, before dropping again.

Shares in rival Tesla, meanwhile, showed a marked drop, of 1.4 per cent, to $201.76, when the rumours broke - before rising back to $203.71 after McLaren's denial.

That's partly because an acquisition of the electric carmaker, which is already in the advanced stages of developing a driverless car, had been mooted by some as an easy way for Apple to muscle into the autonomous car market.

Still a takeover target?

McLaren is fiercely protective of its status as a small, high-end manufacturer. The company hand-makes all its vehicles - earlier this year it announced plans to increase production of its cars to 3,000 in 2017. Compare that with Tesla, which make 14,820 in the first quarter of this year alone, and you can see quite how small the scale is.

Results posted in July showed sales revenue fell 5.2 per cent to £450.6m in 2015, while pre-tax profits fell 63.8 per cent to £5.4m - but also delivered a record number of vehicles.

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