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McLaren fails to take up Formula One board seat

NEWS STORY
14/05/2014

McLaren has turned down the chance to put one of its directors on the board of Formula One according to an article in the Independent by Christian Sylt.

The development is rather ironic given that McLaren's chief executive Ron Dennis has long campaigned that the teams should exercise more control over the sport.

McLaren has won 20 championships since its first race in 1966 and was offered the board seat to acknowledge its historic status. The offer was made in 2012 as part of F1's stalled plans to float on the Singapore stock market. Mercedes' owner Daimler, Ferrari and current F1 champions Red Bull Racing were also offered board seats and they all took them up.

A McLaren spokesman says "it is a right available to us that for various reasons we have chosen not to take up thus far. However, we continue to review the option."

The spokesman would not disclose the reason for the delay but it follows reports in December that Dennis was in talks with Chinese investors about financing a buyout to give him control of the company. McLaren is understood to be worth around £500m and Dennis has a 25% stake in it with 25% in the hands of Saudi tycoon Mansour Ojjeh and 50% owned by Bahrain's Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund.

"McLaren could have a director if they made their mind up," says F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone. "It was going to be one of the Bahrainis but they haven't got a director at the moment."

There are 16 directors on the F1 board comprising six non-executives, three team representatives, two management and five from controlling shareholder the private equity firm CVC. The non-executives include Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe whilst the teams are represented by Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, Red Bull chief executive Dietrich Mateschitz and Bodo Uebber, chief financial officer of Daimler.

For over a decade Dennis has been demanding that the teams should have more influence in F1. He was one of the leading lights of the Grand Prix World Championship, an initiative launched by several car manufacturers with the aim of starting a rival series. In December 2003 it signed a peace agreement with F1 which entitled it to three board seats and those offered in the float preparations were a legacy of this.

Dennis is one of Ecclestone's oldest adversaries and has fiercely criticised the way that he took over F1's rights after initially managing them on behalf of the teams. As Pitpass reported in 2010, Dennis is quoted in Ecclestone's biography 'Bernie' saying "Bernie effectively stole Formula 1 from us... Some people would say it was brilliant, but in essence it was pretty deceitful because the teams were trying to say 'hold on Bernie we own these rights.'"

Ecclestone put this down to sour grapes and told Pitpass at the time that "it's only when things started to look good and I invested the money and it started to work that they thought maybe they should have done it."

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