Apple could be about to drop a billion dollar bombshell

By Nick Whigham

According to an article published by the Financial Times which cited three unnamed sources, Apple was looking at a potential takeover or investment in McLaren. Photo / AP
According to an article published by the Financial Times which cited three unnamed sources, Apple was looking at a potential takeover or investment in McLaren. Photo / AP

It's no secret Apple has been trying to get into the electric self-driving car business. The only secret has been exactly what the company has been doing to reach that goal.

Apple's ambitious project has been shrouded in secrecy but it was revealed earlier this month that the company laid off dozens of employees from the project known as Titan and shut down parts of the division entirely.

Then came the bombshell overnight that the tech giant was in talks with McLaren about a strategic investment, or even a takeover of the British manufacturer of high performance sports cars.

According to an article published by the Financial Times which cited three unnamed sources, the Californian company was looking at a potential takeover or investment in McLaren, which could be valued at up to £1.5 billion ($2.6 billion).

"Apple has approached McLaren Technology Group, the British supercar engineer and Formula One team owner, about a potential acquisition, in the clearest sign yet that the iPhone maker is seeking to transform the automotive industry," the article said. The report claimed the talks had started several months ago.

Naturally, pandemonium ensued.

But it appears to be a little premature as McLaren Automotive has since repeatedly denied being in talks with Apple.

"We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment," a spokesman for the company said in a statement to AFP.

The McLaren 2017 570GT. The carmaker has denied talks are underway with Apple.
The McLaren 2017 570GT. The carmaker has denied talks are underway with Apple.

For its part Apple is staying characteristically tight lipped. A spokesman for Apple said the company would not comment on "rumours or speculation".

So for the time being the world is left speculating about whether or not such a deal - which some are calling "the most powerful combination of brands in the history of technology and automotive manufacturing" - will happen. And it's a preoccupation that many have taken to with gusto.

Despite McLaren denying any talks were currently taking place the Financial Times is standing by the story.

Tim Bradshaw, one of the authors of the piece took to Twitter to say: "Obviously we stand by our story despite McLaren's statement".

WHAT DOES APPLE WANT WITH MCLAREN?

McLaren has a history of innovation and technological prowess, so many see it as the perfect partner to help Apple achieve its lofty automotive ambitions.

"As a high-end technology company, Apple appears to want to be at the high, cutting-edge end of the car industry too," London-based market analyst Jasper Lawler toldAFP.
Plenty of analysts believe if some kind of deal does go ahead, it would be the perfect fit for both companies.

"McLaren has already tried to build a reputation and a psyche that they are a futuristic and tech advanced car company," a senior analyst from Californian-based automotive research company Kelley Blue Book told Business Insider. "Psychologically and philosophically, those two companies are going to overlay perfectly with each other," she said.

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso of Spain steers his car during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore. Photo / AP
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso of Spain steers his car during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore. Photo / AP

It was a sentiment echoed by automotive consultant and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Joe Paluska who told The Guardian that "an Apple McLaren tie-up makes a bunch of sense".

"It gives Apple a world-class automotive engineering team, a well-regarded premium brand, and instant manufacturing expertise, which Tesla continues to struggle with," he said.

More than one media outlet ran the headline exclaiming the collaboration would make "perfect sense" while the MIT Technology Review was somewhat less bullish calling it "not the worst idea ever".

Any interest Apple has in McLaren would obviously revolve around its desire to have access to Mclaren's technology, engineering experience and patent portfolio.

McLaren, which also runs a successful Formula One team, employs thousands of people and has built some of the fastest and most expensive supercars in the world based on its Formula One technology.

In 1981 McLaren revolutionised Formula One racing by building the world's first carbon fibre racing car which was lighter, stiffer and stronger than conventional race cars which used a steel and aluminium chassis.

In the early 90s it produced arguably the most venerated consumer sports car of all time, simply known as the McLaren F1.

Apple could certainly use the decades of experience in hi-tech automotive manufacturing and on the flip side, McLaren is not profitable and having an extra billion dollars or so might not sound like the worst idea.

Any potential deal between the two companies will largely be viewed as part of a bid by Apple to challenge Tesla, the US luxury electric carmaker founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

- news.com.au

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