The US tech giant is said to be considering a tie-up with the luxury carmaker as part of an effort to invest some of its huge cash reserves in the auto industry. But McLaren has denied it was approached by Apple.
Sitting on a cash pile of about $200 billion, the iPhone maker had approached British sports car manufacturer and Formula One team owner McLaren, seeking “a full takeover or a strategic investment,” the British business daily Financial Times reported Wednesday.
Citing three people familiar with the negotiations, the Financial Times (FT) wrote that talks had started several months ago. Both Apple and McLaren Technology Group had declined to comment, FT said.
The loss-making British automotive group was likely to be valued at between one billion pounds ($1.2 billion, 1.1 billion euros) and 1.5 billion pounds, sources said, adding that it was not clear a deal would be done.
According to the news agency AFP, the British supercar maker, however, denied an approach by 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.
A spokesman for Apple said the company would not comment on “rumours or speculation.”
Apple fuelled speculation about its automotive ambitions this year with a one-billion-dollar investment in Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing.
McLaren Technology holds an 80 percent stake in McLaren Automotive. The company has a strong reputation for automotive engineering and on-board computer systems, as well as novel chassis materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. Its luxury sports cars cost as much as $1 million apiece.
Last year, the company produced 1,654 vehicles, generating revenues of 450 million pounds. McLaren has announced a boost to its research and development, aiming to spend one billion pounds over the next six years.
If an Apple-McLaren deal went ahead, it would be Apple’s biggest acquisition since the $3-billion purchase of US audio group Beats Electronics. It would fit into the California tech giant’s ambitions to challenge traditional carmakers around the world with self-driving electric vehicles.
Apple has reportedly hired hundreds of engineers to work on such cars, in a project that has been running for more than two years. However, the New York Times said earlier this month that the company was rethinking its strategy, mothballing parts of its ‘Titan’ self-driving cars project. Against this background, a partnership with an existing carmaker known for its engineering prowess would make sense.