TAG McLaren Sold

Rumors have been circulating for some weeks now that the Chinese-owned, UK-based International Audio Group (IAG), which owns and operates the Quad and Wharfedale brands, was in talks with TAG McLaren, with the intention of taking over the latter's Audio division.

Such a scenario seemed quite feasible. Although TAG McLaren entered the business with great enthusiasm in 1997, first by purchasing the Audiolab brand and then, under its own name, developing its own range of innovative stereo, multichannel, and A/V products, problems emerged during the summer of 2003.

An October 2003 news item (Stereophile, Vol.26 No.10) stated that TAG would undertake a major "strategic review," following a number of job redundancies at its factory in Huntingdon, England. The following issue, I reported that that review had been completed, and that TAG would "continue to manufacture its product range and maintain ongoing research and development, and will also continue to provide full after-sales support." However, industry insiders speculated that TAG was really looking to make an honorable exit from the audio business.

The IAG deal, which we hear was actually signed on March 25, would seem to have achieved this. At the time of writing, both parties are still to reach agreement on the wording of a formal press release, but the terms of the deal look like a satisfactory result for all parties, including current owners of TAG McLaren Audio and Audiolab equipment.

Although the fine details must await the press release, as we understand it, IAG is purchasing much of the TAG McLaren Audio operation, including the intellectual property rights and the Audiolab brandname?—but not TAG's production facilities or factories. IAG will continue to operate the TAG McLaren Audio brand for a limited period, and will take responsibility for the servicing and warranties of all TAG products. A good measure of continuity should therefore be maintained, the more so perhaps because IAG is also based in Huntingdon. While it's too early to say how IAG will make use of its new acquisition, one possibility might involve reviving the Audiolab brand.