Ron Dennis has resigned from Team Boss at McLaren after the board placed him on gardening leave today until his contract expires in January 2017. Dennis who has served as team principal for McLaren Formula 1 since 1981 was also the chairman, CEO, founder and majority owner of McLaren Technology Group.
The news broke out a week after Dennis made an attempt to prevent the board from putting him on leave through a failed high court injunction. He owns 25% of McLaren Group while longtime business partner, French-Saudi Arabian Mansour Ojjeh owns an equal 25%. The other 50% is owned by Bahraini wealth management firm Mumtalakat.
Ojjeh has been involved with Dennis since 1982 when TAG funded Porsche-built engines for McLaren, he became a shareholder in 1984 and the two have been together throughout most of McLaren’s successful F1 career. A few years ago Ojjeh began to side with the Bahrainis, they have tried to overthrow Dennis ever since.
Dennis launched his own attempts to secure his chairmanship, with the most notable of them being a failed takeover bid backed by a Chinese firm. He has however confirmed his intention to honor the board’s decision and will thus be stepping down as chairman and CEO of the group.
Commenting on the sudden move, Dennis said:
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 of the management team about the potential consequences of their actions on the business.
The grounds they have stated are entirely spurious; 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 £850million a year business.
Throughout that time I have worked closely with a series of talented colleagues, to whom I will always be extremely grateful, to keep McLaren at the cutting edge of technology. Ultimately it has become clear to me through this process that neither TAG nor Mumtalakat share my vision for McLaren and it’s true growth potential.
But my first concern is to the business I have built and to its 3500 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. This will capitalise on my expertise, my financial resources, together with external investment to pursue the many commercial opportunities I have been offered in recent years but have been unable to take up while being so committed to the existing business.
The Ron Dennis era has seen McLaren Formula 1 become the second most successful F1 team after Ferrari.
Under his leadership, McLaren has secured 10 drivers’ titles starting with Niki Lauda (1984), Alain Prost (1985, 1986, 1989), Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990, 1991), Mika Häkkinen (1998, 1999) and Lewis Hamilton (2008). In total, the team has won 158 Grands Prix and 17 titles under Ron Dennis.