Ron Dennis, the man who led the McLaren team that created the iconic F1 road car, established today’s standard-setting road car division and scooped numerous Formula 1 world titles, setting the standards by which teams in the sport today operate, is selling all of his shares in the firm for an undisclosed sum.
The move ends a 37-year association between the two sides, which began when the team was struggling for success in F1 in 1980. Today, the McLaren Group is valued at £2.4 billion.
The split will be formalised by Dennis transferring his remaining 25% stake in McLaren Technology Group and 11% shareholding of McLaren Automotive. He is reported to have received £275 million for the shares and, as such, he will have no role at McLaren in future. The deal is expected to complete in "the next days or months".
The news also means the formation of the McLaren Group - the new holding company of McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive. Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa will become McLaren Group's executive chairman, while The Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company and TAG Group will remain as majority shareholders. Mike Flewitt continues in his role as boss of McLaren Automotive and Jonathan Neale and Zak Brown also stay in their roles leading McLaren Technology Group.
The company said it had secured finance in order to acquire Dennis's shareholdings as well as"stimulate growth in its wider businesses and consolidate its financial arrangements". A McLaren spokesman said the new investment would be used for its technology arm.
Dennis, who turned 70 this month, was awarded a CBE in 2000. He rose to prominence when he was placed in charge of the then struggling McLaren team in 1980, and soon led it back to race victories and world championships. Drivers who won world titles while he was at the helm of McLaren were Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen and Lewis Hamilton.
Dennis and his co-owners of the McLaren Group fell out in around 2014 for unspecified reasons. This triggered a chain of events where he attempted to buy McLaren back from them. However, when he was unable to raise the funds to do so, they effectively sidelined him at the end of 2016 by removing him from any positions of control of the company he part-owned.
Speaking about the announcement, Dennis said: "I am very pleased to have reached agreement with my fellow McLaren shareholders. It represents a fitting end to my time at McLaren and will enable me to focus on my other interests. I have always said that my 37 years at Woking should be considered as a chapter in the McLaren book, and I wish every success as it takes the story forward."
bin Essa Al Khalifa commented: "There will be time in the near future to outline our plans, for the coming months and years will be an extremely exciting time in the story of McLaren. But now, today, it is appropriate that we pause to express our gratitude to Ron. So, on behalf of McLaren and all who sail in her, may I say three heartfelt words: thank you, Ron."
Yesterday, McLaren Automotive announced its fourth year of profits in only its sixth year of existence. The company is believed by some analysts to have be more successful financially than any six-year-old car company in history.