Ron Dennis forced to give up F1 McLaren CEO role

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Ron Dennis has relinquished his roles as chairman and CEO of the McLaren Technology Group following a lengthy boardroom battle with his fellow shareholders.

Dennis, who remains a 25% stakeholder in the company, has been in dispute with long time business partner Mansour Ojjeh (also owner of 25%) and the Bahrain government wealth find Mumtalakat (50%) for some time. Last week, an attempt to defend his position in the United Kingdom courts failed.

“I am disappointed that the representatives of TAG and Mumtalakat, the other main shareholders in McLaren, have forced through this decision to place me on gardening leave, despite the strong warnings from the rest at the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business,” Dennis said.

A board meeting Tuesday saw him forced out of the top spot. He remains a board member, however.

Dennis said that he had been forced out on “entirely spurious grounds.”

“My management style is the same as it has always been and is one that has enabled McLaren to become an automotive and technology group that has won 20 Formula 1 World Championships and grown into an £850 million a year business,” Dennis said.

“Throughout that time I have worked closely with a series of talented colleagues to keep McLaren at the cutting edge of technology, to whom I will always be extremely grateful,” he added.

Dennis has been involved with the team since the fall of 1980, when fledgling Project 4 organization was merged with the then struggling McLaren.

“Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither TAG nor Mumtalakat share my vision for McLaren and its true growth potential,” said Dennis. “But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3,500 employees. I will continue to use my significant shareholding in both companies and my seats on both boards to protect the interests and value of McLaren and help shape its future.

“In addition I intend to launch a new technology investment fund once my contractual commitments with McLaren expire,” he added. “This will capitalize on my expertise, my financial resources, together with external investment to pursue the many commercial opportunities I have been altered in recent years but have been unable to take up while being so committed to the existing business.”

McLaren has subsequently issued its own statement, saying it is seeking a new CEO — and the company will in the interim be run by an “executive committee,” headed by the group’s majority shareholders, working with the directors and senior management team.

The full statement reads: “As of this afternoon Ron Dennis no longer holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Technology Group (or its subsidiaries). However, he remains a shareholder and a director of McLaren Technology Group.

“Over the past 35 years Ron’s contribution to the success of McLaren has been colossal. During his tenure the team won 17 World Championships and 158 Grands Prix, making him the most successful leader in Formula 1 history. Like the company’s founder, Bruce McLaren, Ron is and will always be one of the true greats of the sport.

“McLaren Technology Group is now in the process of seeking a new Chief Executive Officer. Until such an appointment has been made, the company will be run on an interim basis by an Executive Committee comprising the Group’s majority shareholders, in close collaboration with the Board of Directors and the senior management team, all of whom remain utterly committed to the company, its partners, its employees and its fans, and share a passionate determination to build on our many strengths towards future prosperity.”