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)

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India revises up 2013/14 GDP growth to 6.9 percent.  Full Article 

Pharma Deal

Pharma Deal

Sun Pharmaceutical wins U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy  Full Article 

Adani Restructuring

Adani Restructuring

Adani hives off power, ports businesses to boost growth.  Full Article 

Bank of Baroda

Bank of Baroda

Q3 net profit down 69 pct on higher provisions  Full Article 

Trading Fees

Trading Fees

BSE slashes fees in FX derivatives battle with NSE  Full Article 

SpiceJet Turnaround

SpiceJet Turnaround

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

Currency Market

Currency Market

RBI urges companies to hedge FX exposure  Full Article 

Banking Sector

Banking Sector

Banks say no room to cut lending rates, thwarting RBI easing  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

RBI seen holding rates steady on Tuesday, minority of analysts expect cut  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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