July - August 2017

Ron Dennis' stakes in McLaren go to Bahraini Sheikh

First of all I would like to wish you all a Happy "Eid" and Fitr "Saiid"! May this year bring blessings, prosperity and peace into our Middle East region.


The hottest story of the month, which many of you who were following the news lately might have guessed is that McLaren has done an amazing job the past five years. But, the story is all about chairman and CEO, Ron Dennis, selling his stakes at McLaren. The most obvious seller would be from Bahrain as the regional representative office of the Middle East is located in Bahrain and not Dubai.

The arrangement announced by the British racing team and exotic automaker will see Dennis sell his 25 percent in the McLaren Technology Group (including the racing and applied-technology divisions) and 11 percent in McLaren Automotive. With the sales' completion, Dennis will officially step down from his role of chairman and hand the wheel over to Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, brother to King Hamad II of Bahrain and head of the crown's Mumtalakat Holding Company. The sheikh has served until now as head of McLaren's executive committee and will now become its executive chairman.

The announcement states that the "McLaren Group has secured finance in order to acquire Ron Dennis's shareholdings," but did not detail exactly how they would be redistributed. They will likely either be absorbed by the other shareholders - namely the aforementioned Bahraini Company and Mansour Ojjeh's TAG Group - or potentially be used to float an IPO on the stock exchange.

Thus will end a 37-year history between Ron Dennis and McLaren that stretches back to December of 1980, when Ron merged his Project Four team with McLaren International in the wake of founder Bruce McLaren's death. In the four decades since, Dennis steered the team towards 158 grand prix victories and 17 world championships and founded the automotive and applied technology divisions that will now all form part of a new, expanded McLaren Group.

That leaves Dennis, who just celebrated his 70th anniversary, free "to pursue his career as a consultant and entrepreneur" and philanthropist. But I wouldn't be surprised to see him return to racing and the automotive industry in the future.

What do we have in our combined issue of July / August?
Our cover story has been divided into two: I flew to Barcelona for the first drive of the all-new 2018 Volvo XC60 and Ershad flew to Lisbon for the first drive of the all-new 2018 Jeep Compass.

In our concept car section we featured the Rolls-Royce Sweptail and in our car review section we covered the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

In this issue we brought you the maximum of test vehicles from Dubai and Beirut: Editors' Choice. Ershad drove the all-new fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery in Dubai. Back in Beirut, I personally drove the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe, 2017 Mercedes E-Class Coupe, 2017 Fiat Abarth 595 and the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.

We also featured a nice report talking about the latest trend in the automotive industry: the emergence of autonomous vehicles.

Again and again I leave you here dear readers and see you hopefully in our September issue. You can always drop me a message on ArabWheels' social media networks or to my individual account where I'm able to answer you personally.

Drink lots of water and enjoy the hot summer weather!



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