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McLaren and Mercedes

GERMAN newspapers last week began speculating that DaimlerChrysler - the parent company of Mercedes-Benz - may be negotiating to buy Mansour Ojjeh's 60% shareholding in the TAG/McLaren Group. This would include buying McLaren International.

The stories came about after DaimlerChrysler's Jurgen Hubbert told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper that he could not rule out the possibility of buying into the Grand Prix team. "One can never say never," Hubbert remarked. "One day it could be in our interest to gain control of the technical knowhow." Hubbert mentioned Mercedes subsidiary AMG, which for many years worked as an independent operation in touring car racing before coming under full Mercedes-Benz control in January.

McLaren is very sensitive to such stories, but it is worth pointing out that if Ojjeh is considering selling his interest in the group, now is the best time to do so. The team is riding high on its success in F1 and he could ask a high price. From an industrial point of view the acquisition of TAG McLaren would be of some interest to Mercedes-Benz as the company would gain not only a top level racing team but also an advanced electronics subsidiary, an automotive marketing company, an advanced automotive stereo unit and an operation capable of building top-of-the-range supercars.

Whether Ojjeh wants to sell, however, is another matter...

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