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Supercar maker McLaren denies Apple investment report


Formula 1 team owner McLaren has dampened down a report that Apple has made a buyout or investment approach for the supercar maker.

The Financial Times reported that talks had started several months ago.

But a McLaren spokesman said: "We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment."

However, the firm "regularly" has "confidential conversations with a wide range of parties", he added.

The Financial Times reported that a potential deal would see Apple pay up to £1.5bn for McLaren, or make an investment for part of it, citing sources it said had been briefed on negotiations.

It said that Apple was interested in accelerating its own car projects.

The BBC understands that McLaren had been in talks with Apple over its rumoured Apple car, but those talks had not come to fruition.

Analysis: Theo Leggett, BBC business reporter

Why would Apple be interested in McLaren? It's hard to see why the technology giant would want control of a Formula 1 team, or what interest it might have in the supercars built by McLaren Automotive. A more likely target is McLaren Applied Technologies, a sister business to the other two.

Part of what it does is data analytics. During Formula 1 races, McLaren uses computers to model pretty much any scenario that might occur, so that the team can adapt its strategy on a continuous basis. This kind of modelling can be used in other scenarios too - for example to predict how traffic will flow through a typical city centre, and how problems in one area might have knock-on effects miles away.

It also develops advanced materials - lightweight carbon composites and complex alloys, which are used by the automotive business. And it's recognised as a leader in the development of simulators, which can model and predict vehicle behaviour.

It's an open secret in Silicon Valley that Apple is developing a car; it's widely believed the company has ambitions to become a leader in the market for driverless vehicles.

Advanced materials, predictive analystics and expertise in simulating vehicle behaviour... you can start to see why the Californian giant might be interested in a relatively small business based in Woking.

F1 team is used to delivering updates every couple of weeks

Apple ploughed $1bn (£770m) into Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing earlier this year and is testing driverless electric cars.

Jim Holder, editorial director at Haymarket Automotive, said that Apple updates its products every year, whereas carmakers only do it every five to seven years.

Such is the pace of development within Formula 1 that McLaren will upgrade and refine its racing cars multiple times each week during a season. It is thought that Apple is particularly keen on McLaren's expertise in rapid response times.

If Apple wants a prototyping arm with established credentials - McLaren is a great fit.

Mr Holder added Tesla has disrupted the car industry, but Apple buying McLaren would be much bigger.


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