Ron goes his own way

At a press conference held this morning at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis announced a major restructuring of the McLaren Group. McLaren has for more than two years been engaged in a programme to develop a range of pure McLaren sports cars that will build on the great successes of the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. As part of this plan, it is intended that McLaren Automotive, currently one of a number of companies within the McLaren Group, will become an independent company later this year. The launch date for the first model in the new range of McLaren sports cars will be in 2011. McLaren Automotive is intending to raise fresh equity in addition to the existing investment in the business to complete the development of the planned vehicle programmes. It has appointed Credit Suisse as its financial advisor, to facilitate this process.

"With planned additional investment in the company of £250 million, proposals in place for a new McLaren car production facility in the UK, and the potential for up to 800 skilled jobs, McLaren Automotive’s expansion will represent a significant investment in the UK automotive industry," Dennis said.

As Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, Ron Dennis will lead the growth of the new sports car business. As of today, Ron Dennis has handed his responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing to Martin Whitmarsh, who will be responsible to the board for the activities of McLaren Racing in addition to his role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. On June 1 2009 Richard Lapthorne will be appointed Non Executive Chairman of the McLaren Group and a Non Executive Director of McLaren Automotive.

With regard to F1, Dennis said: “I passed the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was “Yes”. I duly attended it – albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling. The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK – an activity I found surprisingly easy. I’d expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many Grands Prix for so many years. I admit I’m not always easy to get on with. I admit I’ve always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision. Equally, I was the architect of today’s restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision. I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1.”

The shareholding of the McLaren Group is as follows: Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) 40%; Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company 30%; Tag Group (Mansour Ojjeh) 15%; Ron Dennis 15%

From 1993 until 1998, McLaren Cars (the forerunner to McLaren Automotive) designed and manufactured the iconic McLaren F1 super sports car. McLaren Automotive has successfully designed and manufactured the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren range of premium sports cars over the past six years, and will continue to do so until the end of 2009.

Richard Lapthorne is Chairman of Cable and Wireless plc. Recently he was also Chairman of Morse plc and of the private equity owned fashion retailer New Look. His career started with Unilever where in 18 years he worked in the UK, Paris, Holland and Africa. He then moved to Courtaulds plc as Group Financial Controller, becoming Finance Director in 1986 as well as Chairman of the US Group. He joined British Aerospace plc in July 1992 and was a key member of the management team responsible for transforming the company into Europe’s leading aerospace and defence company. He retired as Vice Chairman in 1999. He started his non-executive career with Amersham International plc in 1989, becoming Chairman from 1996 until 2003. He has held a number of other directorships.

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