The Kuwait Investment Dar – Aston Martin’s biggest shareholder – is seeking a buyer for its 64 per cent share of Aston Martin.
Just over a year ago, we reported that Aston Martin was up for sale, even though AML were emphatic the company was doing well and not seeking a new owner.
But now it seems a year or more of trying to find a buyer on the quiet has failed, so Aston Martin’s biggest shareholder - the Kuwait Investment Dar with 64 per cent – has instructed Rothschild to advise on the sale, according to Bloomberg.
And it seems Aston Martin has continued to do the rounds of car makers in a desperate attempt to find a buyer, including India’s Mahindra and Mahindra (who are on the acquisition trail) and even Toyota who, it is reported, hired an auditor to look at Aston Martin’s books.
Aston Martin are still denying they’re seeking a new owner, but they have no choice. With engines and platforms more than a decade old they can’t survive for much longer without the backing of a big car maker.
The perfect fit was Mercedes-Benz, and until just over a year ago it looked likely that Mercedes could indeed either take a stake in Aston Martin or even buy it outright. Mercedes were planning to use Aston Martin to build the new Maybach and AML were hoping for Mercedes engines and platforms in return.
That would have meant an injection of cash for Aston Martin for the Maybach contract and Mercedes engines for their cars. It would also have meant the next generation DB9 range could have been built on the SLS platform and the GL and S Class platform could have underpinned a new range of Lagonda cars.
But it seems the Ulrich Bez valuation of Aston Martin – variously spouted in the $2 billion plus range – was just too silly. But now it seems Investment Dar are seeking around £500 million for their 64 per cent, which becomes a bit more sensible (and means they get their original purchase price from Ford back).
Whether a new and more realistic price for Aston Martin will flush buyers out of the woodwork remains to be seen, but the prospects for Aston Martin are poor if it doesn’t.
As we reported very recently, AML are giving old stock DBS away at a third off list and even the new Vanquish can be bought at a discount. Works of art though they are – and still desirable – Aston Martins are just too old to be credibly competitive against cars like the Ferrari F12.
We hate to say it, but in our minds the only sensible route for a proper Aston Martin future probably lies with Mercedes or BMW.