BERLIN (Reuters) - McLaren Automotive on Monday denied a report that Volkswagen AG's Audi had bought the company, but left the door open to technology collaboration "with relevant partners and suppliers."
Audi told Reuters it was "looking at various cooperation ideas" but did not confirm whether it was discussing a possible sale with McLaren.
The statements followed a report from autos publication Autocar earlier on Monday that an acquisition agreement had been reached between Audi and McLaren.
"McLaren Group is aware of a news media report stating it has been sold to Audi. This is wholly inaccurate and McLaren is seeking to have the story removed," a company spokesperson said, without responding directly to whether discussions were ongoing with Audi.
"McLaren's technology strategy has always involved ongoing discussions and collaboration with relevant partners and suppliers, including other carmakers, however, there has been no change in the ownership structure of the McLaren Group," they said.
Acquiring the carmaker would put a second supercar in Audi's books alongside Lamborghini, which it has owned since 1998.
German publication Automobilwoche reported on Sunday that Audi was particularly interested in the Formula 1 division.
Like other carmakers, McLaren is battling with the challenge of electrifying its fleet without compromising on performance.
Its executive director for purchasing told Reuters in February the company was looking to generate revenue by selling some of its new technology to other automakers, including a new in-house produced carbon chassis to reduce the vehicle's weight.
Still, a deal with Audi would give it a more comfortable financial backing to ease the transition to electric vehicles, which competitors like Volkswagen unit Bentley or Tata Motors Ltd's Jaguar Land Rover can rely on.
The carmaker, set up in 2010 and 42% owned by Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, partially recovered from a pandemic-driven slump in revenue in the first half of 2021, but still suffered an operating loss of 12.4 million pounds ($16.65 million).
Mumtalakat declined to comment to Reuters on the possible Audi sale, referring back to McLaren's statement.
($1 = 0.7446 pounds)
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Christina Amann, additional reporting by Saeed Azhar, Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Bernadette Baum)