Rumours ramp up of Apple acquiring McLaren

By: Andy Enright

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Apple Mc?

On the face of it McLarens’s statement last night that "We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment" seems pretty unequivocal. Yet the wires are afire today that the Cupertino tech giant is planning a bold cash bid for the Woking-based supercar manufacturer.

The complementary synergies are there if you look hard enough for them. Apple was keen to get in early on autonomous cars but lacked the production nous to bring advanced lightweight concepts to market. McLaren would gain a significant edge in its marketing and tech integration, something it initially struggled with.

Last year Apple was looking to test its self-driving prototypes at a closed facility in California. That project stalled, and Apple recently reassessed its automotive involvement, firing a dozen top-drawer engineers previously poached from leading car companies. An acquisition or strategic partnership with McLaren would overcome a lot of the sticking points of Apple’s ‘Project Titan,’ and wouldn’t be financially stretching for the cash-rich company.

Mclaren -factory

Buying McLaren outright, which is valued at less than $2bn, would barely make a dent in Apple’s $55bn reserves. Apple recently bought Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-sharing business, for $1.3bn and headphones giant Beats for nearly $4bn, so McLaren – Tesla aside, the nearest thing car manufacturing has to a tech company – is small beer.

What’s more, Apple has form in this area. Back in 2008, it spent almost $500m on an obscure chip company called P.A. Semi. Vertically integrating this business was one of Apple’s better decisions because it then formed the basis for the A-series mobile chipset, keeping control of its key assets in-house. McLaren has vast equity potential in lodged patents. Could Apple have stolen a march on the market again? That would depend on who you choose to believe. It’s possible this story could have emerged after McLaren was just one of a number of industry contacts that Apple had contacted and then jettisoned over the course of the ill-starred Project Titan. One thing’s for sure. McLaren’s assets are under the microscope and if Apple don’t bid, it’s not inconceivable that another industry giant could.

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