Aston Martin at centre of bid war after M&M offer

MILAN/MUMBAI Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:30pm IST

A new V12 Zagato model car is displayed on the Aston Martin booth during the first media day of the Geneva Auto Show at the Palexpo in Geneva, March 6, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files

A new V12 Zagato model car is displayed on the Aston Martin booth during the first media day of the Geneva Auto Show at the Palexpo in Geneva, March 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse/Files

Stocks

   

MILAN/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Aston Martin stands at the centre of an international takeover battle after Mahindra and Mahindra trumped an Italian bid for half of the British luxury car maker.

Italian private equity fund Investindustrial reached an agreement on Thursday with the owner, Kuwaiti investment house Investment Dar, but Mahindra and Mahindra made a higher offer on Friday, leaving the fate of the 98-year-old icon of British motor engineering hanging in the balance, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Aston Martin makes the cars immortalised by James Bond films down the decades in Gaydon, Warwickshire, the heartland of England's early 20th century motor manufacturing heyday.

The company was sold in 2007 by U.S.-based Ford Motor Co. (F.N) for 479 million pounds, to Kuwait's Investment Dar and another Kuwait fund, Adeem Investment Co.

The consortium was fronted by David Richards -- former Formula 1 Benetton and BAR racing boss, who remains chairman.

Aston Martin sells approaching 15 percent of its DB9, Vanquish and other models in Asia. Wealthy Chinese buyers snapped up 110 cars in 2010 and sales are expected to have multliplied five-fold to over 500 this year.

"Talks are continuing through the weekend," said one source, who said Investindustrial had bid between 200 million and 250 million pounds for the stake, and is confident of winning the race because it sees its proposal as "technically" superior, including a technical partnership deal with Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes.

The same source said manufacturing would stay at Gaydon under the Italian proposal.

A spokesman for Investment Dar, which went to the market for a $1 billion debt restructuring last year, was not immediately available for comment, nor could Mahindra be reached for comment. Investindustrial declined comment.

Investindustrial, owned by Italy's Bonomi family, is not new to luxury motor brands. In 2006, it bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati and sold it for about 860 million euros last April to Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE) Audi division.

Mahindra is the world number one tractor make. It also makes more sport utlitiy vehicles than any other Indian motor manufacturer, and controls South Korean car maker Ssangyong Motor Co Ltd (003620.KS).

A second source familiar with the process said Mahindra was keen to access the Aston Martin technology to upgrade its existing vehicle platform.

Another Indian motor company, Tata Motor, owns British luxury manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, and has had even more success than Aston Martin in China, now Jaguar Land Rover's biggest market.

(Writing by Andrew Callus; Additional reporting by Amran Abocar in Dubai, Rhys Jones in London, Sylvia Aloisi in Milan, Henry Foy in Mumbai, editing by William Hardy)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Reliance Q4 sales rise, refining margin narrows.  Read 

Innovative Solution

Innovative Solution

Turning smog into jewels - a Dutch designer's solution to Beijing's pollution.  Video 

Insider Trading

Insider Trading

Rajaratnam's brother loses bid to dismiss insider trading charges.  Full Article 

Literary Giant Dies

Literary Giant Dies

Mourning and memories in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's languid hometown.  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

S&P: India's ratings to depend on next govt econ, fiscal policies.  Full Article 

Ambitious Aim

Ambitious Aim

In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch.  Full Article 

Bond Market

Bond Market

A star abroad, RBI boss riles bond traders at home  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage