Ford Sells Aston Martin

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In a move designed to shed non-core businesses and focus resources on higher volume propositions, Ford Motor Company has sold its Aston Martin marque to a group headed by David Richards head of ProDrive. While other offers were on the table from, among others, a group headed by former Ford chairman Jacques Nasser and even a bid from Malaysia’s Proton, the $925 million deal from Richards’ group was the winner.
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Well it’s between the new Audi R8 and the Aston V8 Vantage in the auto lust of AutoPacific and VehicleVoice staffers.
Richards – Deep Auto Credentials
Richards has deep auto industry credentials. His company, ProDrive, has been closely aligned with Aston Martin in motorsports. Along with Richards, the consortium includes: John Sinders described as an “avid Aston Martin collector and backer of Aston Martin Racing”, Investment Dar, and Adeem Investment Company. Aston’s present head, Dr. Ulrich Bez, will stay on as Aston’s chief executive officer.
Ford Retains Stake – To Guarantee Source of Engines?

Ford is retaining a 15% stake in the company. This may answer questions about where Aston will be getting its engines in the future. As of now, Aston Martin units are sourced from Ford’s Jaguar unit and modified to Aston specs. With Ford retaining an equity stake this may guarantee Ford as the source for future Aston powertrains.
James Bond and Beyond
Aston Martin was founded in 1914 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin. It sold its first car in 1915. Perhaps Aston was best known as James Bond’s preferred transportation when heavily modified Astons appeared in early James Bond films. Goldfinger, Bond’s 1964 blockbuster, found Sean Connery driving an Aston Martin DB4. Aston Martins also appeared in a number of other 007 films, including “Thunderball,” “The Living Daylights,” “Goldeneye” and “Die Another Day.” More recently, Daniel Craig (he’s no Sean Connery) drove a DB9 as Secret Agent 007 in 2006’s Casino Royale.
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Ford Involved Since 1987
Ford bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994.
It appeared at first that Aston Martin would remain a boutique brand or fade away completely. Annual production dipped as low as just 46 cars in 1992 and many people wrote off the brand. But as part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group Aston has flourished. Its resurgence began under the watch of Wolfgang Reitzle and has reached fruition under the leadership of Ulrich Bez. With Henrik Fisker styling the iconic Astons on the road today, record 7,000 Aston Martins were sold worldwide in 2006 and a similar number are expected to be sold in 2007.
Aston’s two present production models, the DB9 and the V8 Vantage are assembled in Gaydon, England. Gaydon has about 1,800 workers. Stunning Porsche (that had just announced its Panamera 4-door sports car), Aston Martin showed its 4-door Rapide at the 2005 North American International Motor Show. The Rapide is expected to be launched later in 2007.
The press releases issued by Aston Martin and Ford Motor Company today are shown below the fold.


Aston Martin’s Release – Aston Martin announces new shareholders
Gaydon March 12, 2007: Aston Martin is pleased to announce the start of a new chapter in its illustrious history following the announcement today that the prestigious sports car manufacturer has been sold to a consortium led by David Richards, John Sinders, Investment Dar and Adeem Investment, ending almost twenty years as part of Ford Motor Company.
The consortium is a group of sophisticated investors who are committed to the brand, its success and existing business plan which envisages growth, profitability and new products, including the much acclaimed four door concept Rapide, shown for the first time at the Detroit Auto Show in 2006.
With the full support of the investors, Dr Ulrich Bez, remains committed to the future success of Aston Martin and will lead the management team into a new era as its Chief Executive. Since his appointment in 2000 he has overseen a period of growth and investment, steering Aston Martin to its unparalleled status in the world luxury sports car market. During the past six years the company has seen a tremendous change with new headquarters, exciting new products, a successful motorsport programme and a strong corporate identity throughout the expanding dealership network.
Leading the investors is David Richards, founder and chairman of Prodrive, a world leading motorsport and automotive engineering company. He will be joining the board of Aston Martin as non executive chairman in a personal capacity.
“This is an incredible opportunity – Aston Martin is one of the world’s most iconic brands” said David Richards. “We are confident we now have all the right ingredients to take Aston Martin to even greater heights.”
John Sinders, a banker in finance and shipping from Houston, Texas and Dubai UAE, is an Aston Martin owner with a great affection for the brand on both road and track.
Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti company, is the largest listed investment company in the Gulf. It owns and manages a group of companies including banking, finance, investment and asset management, real estate, insurance, banking, and logistics. Investment Dar has total assets of US$ 3.66 billion, with net income of US$ 317.3 million in 2006.
Adeem Investment is a Kuwaiti company and owns companies in the banking and finance, real estate and hotels, transport and logistics, food and telecoms industries. It has become the fastest growing investment, corporate finance and asset management company in Kuwait with assets under management in excess of US$ 1.5 billion.
Jefferies & Company acted as financial adviser to the Consortium.
“This new partnership is a tremendously exciting opportunity for Aston Martin,” said Ulrich Bez. “Under the ownership of Ford we have become a successful, profitable company and I will be working with the new owners to build on this great foundation. It is a new beginning which will give the company the opportunity to attain an even higher level of excellence.
“This next stage in the company’s history promises to be the most exciting yet. David Richards and I have a great deal of mutual respect for each other and we are equally passionate about realising the brand’s full potential.”
Aston Martin will remain at its high tech production facility at Gaydon in Warwickshire, a purpose-built facility where a skilled workforce of 1800 employees have helped gather numerous awards from the automotive and design industries in the past five years. Aston Martin has also enjoyed considerable success on the track and the company’s sporting heritage continues to infuse every model.
Aston Martin is a one of the world’s leading sports car manufacturers. Founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford the company has been responsible for some of the most evocative automobiles of all time. Aston Martin has evolved into a prestige manufacturer with class-leading products and perhaps the most high profile automotive brand name in the world.
The current model line-up of the award-winning V8 Vantage, DB9, DB9 Volante and Vanquish S and V8 Vantage Roadster will soon be enhanced by the eagerly awaited high performance DBS model. Voted the UK’s coolest brand in 2006, Aston Martin has a fast-expanding dealership network of 126 dealers representing in 27 countries.
Ford Motor Company’s Release
DEARBORN, Mich., March, 12, 2007 – Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Aston Martin, its prestigious sports car business, to a consortium comprised of David Richards, John Sinders, Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co. This transaction is the result of Ford’s decision, as announced in August 2006, to explore strategic options for the Aston Martin business as the company restructures its core automotive operations and builds liquidity.
The sale is expected to close during the second quarter and is subject to customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals. The transaction values Aston Martin at £479 million ($925 million). As part of the transaction, Ford will retain a £40 million ($77 million) investment in Aston Martin. Other terms and conditions specific to the sale are not being disclosed at this time.
“The sale of Aston Martin supports the key objectives of the company, to restructure to operate profitably at lower volumes and changed model mix and to speed the development of new products,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s President and chief executive officer. “From Aston Martin’s point of view, the sale will provide access to additional capital, which will allow Aston Martin to continue the growth it has experienced under Ford’s stewardship. Today’s announcement is good for Ford Motor Company, good for Aston Martin and good for the UK. We wish Aston Martin every possible success for the future.”
The new owner of Aston Martin is a consortium comprised of: David Richards, founder and chairman of Prodrive, a world-leading motorsport and automotive technology company; John Sinders, an avid Aston Martin collector and a backer of Aston Martin Racing; and Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co, international investment companies headquartered in Kuwait.
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With more than 280,000 employees and more than 100 plants worldwide, the company’s core and affiliated automotive brands include Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo and Mazda. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.

This article has 2 comments

  1. David Barrett 03/12/2007, 10:42 am:

    Note that Dave Richards has been extremely successful in turning various racing teams around – from money pits to cash cows in fact. His ProDrive organization is highly respected – and Richards has the 12th and final “approved” entry for the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. Being able to enter as Aston Martin might bring some added credibility and opportunity to the company’s new ownership.

  2. greenhornet 03/12/2007, 6:33 pm:

    There are precious few “Grand Marques” remaining today. Thank God Aston Martin has been rescued by automotive enthusiasts. Hopefuly they will respect Aston Martin’s history and traditions.
    Hornet
    Hornet…
    AMEN
    ED

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