Apple in talks with racing carmaker McLaren

A fun one this morning from the Financial Times (which, of course McLaren denies). You'll forgive the slightly hotter take than usual -- it's just too good to pass up. 

First of all, while it's easy to snark -- as I have and will! -- this may not be the craziest deal in the world given how serious Apple is with regard to the car project. If the FT is right, and the deal would be between £1B and £1.5B (basically $1.3B and $2B) this would be pretty "cheap" for Apple. Cheaper than say, buying Tesla, which has a market cap of around $30B (which Apple would have to pay a premium on top of, of course). 

Also, jokes aside, given that McLaren is a British company, Apple could use some of its overseas cash (which is almost all of its cash on hand at this point) to buy (or invest in) the company. And better to do that sooner before they inevitably repatriate that money (at a lower tax rate, of course) next year.

Such a hypothetical deal strikes me as almost Beats-like: a lot of glitz on the surface, but underneath, there's probably a few things Apple really cares about. First and foremost would be car design and engineering expertise. (Same with Beats: music and streaming expertise.) Second, they'd get a premium brand. (Same with Beats.) Third, they get some revenue -- something between $300M and $600M, according to the reports -- which isn't nothing, but not meaningful to Apple (same with Beats).

And then, as Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw report:

"A tie-up with McLaren, whose expertise ranges from automotive engineering and on-board computer systems to novel chassis materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium, could accelerate Apple’s secretive automotive project."

They had Jony Ive at "aluminium." They had Eddy Cue at fancy sports car. And they had Phil Schiller at McLaren. Now I've totally talked myself into it, it's hard to see Apple not doing this deal. Apple Car Edition here we come!


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