McLaren is not about to go public and speculation that this is the plan is simply that. The story comes from some Ron Dennis quotes that have been extrapolated to a crazy extent by a website that has a habit of making huge guesses and then forgetting the guesses that don’t work out. We could all do this, but what’s the point? People eventually work out that it is all guesswork and they then trust the source less and ultimately they don’t bother to visit anymore, no matter how thrilling the headline may sound. So why would a website owner waste all that effort? Why not try to do the job properly and get off one’s backside and go to some races and try to become a credible F1 source, rather than a bottom-feeder? Of course it’s hard to do it, which is why only the best make it.
Anyway, back to McLaren. To understand the team one needs to understand that Dennis is a man who values control. He likes things being done his way, but he listens and trusts people enough to let them try things. However, the team has not been as successful as it used to be and Ron is keen to get back on top. These things take time but he has given that job to Eric Boullier and it is a work in progress. It’s hard to know how well it is going because Honda’s problems are obscuring the level of performance.
In the meantime Dennis is buying back control of the business. It is clear that all those involved have agreed to let this happen and Ron is finding the money to do it. Mansour Ojjeh (of TAG fame) wants out. He’s not been well and he wants a quieter life. Ron is also buying a percentage of the shares held by Mumtalakat, but the Bahrain sovereign wealth fund will remain as a significant shareholder.
The word is that Ron has found money in China and that negotiations are ongoing, presumably because everyone wants to have things clear over what options might be included in the future. Remember that McLaren Automotive and the McLaren Technology Group (the F1 team is part of the latter) are two separate businesses, that have some shareholders in common, and this must complicate matters a little. Dennis is now 68 and is a man who thinks about the future and is not a short-termist. He will want a suitable structure that will outlive him and that will keep the McLaren name as a revered brand for years to come. Floating the company is something that Ferrari avoided doing for 27 years after the death of Enzo, and only then, as part of a much bigger group, was that allowed to happen. One suspects that McLaren will stay away from public ownership for as long as possible. If the owners want to extract value from their share holdings then new partners will be found, but Dennis has already done that and had a nicely balanced business with the shares structured cleverly until one day he lost a vote because he was not the chairman of that particular session and the casting vote went against him. The fact that he is finding ways to get control back shows that he has no plans to float.