Call it an early Christmas present: Aston Martin announced this morning that it has a new partner and shareholder, Italian Investindustrial, after Investindustrial purchased a 37.5 percent stake in the British automaker.
We previously reported that sales of Aston Martin cars were down (down 19 percent through the end of September); even though new product is on the way, Aston is still having trouble raising funds for research and development, and major stakeholder Investment Dar was looking to ditch its stake in Aston to pay down its own mounting debts.
While Investment Dar's problems aren't completely solved with this transaction, Aston does receive a much-needed infusion of cash. The 37.5-percent stake in Aston cost Investindustrial $240,150,000. While the money is certainly welcome in Gaydon, England, it would appear that Investindustrial got its share for a song: Investment Dar's 64-percent stake was said to be worth $800 million (which would make 37.5 percent worth about $469 million). To put it all in perspective, the hit James Bond movie Skyfall has grossed just over $250 million in the United States alone.
Then again, Investindustrial seems to know a bargain when it sees one. The company's most notable investment of late was its ownership (actually a majority share) of Ducati, which was sold to Audi in April of this year for just over $1 billion, reportedly a three-fold return on Investindustrial's investment.
With $240 million in hand, Aston says it's ready to embark on an ambitious (at least $800 million) five-year plan of engineering new models and technologies. It should be welcome news to fans of Aston, who have watched the cash-strapped company soldier on with increasingly antiquated engines (its 6.0-liter dates back at least to the DB7) and other technologies.
Aston Martin said in a released statement that it intends to continue working with Investment Dar and Investindustrial, which would signal that Investment Dar's stake isn't going anywhere soon. Neither are partnerships with Daimler or Lotus, as far as we can tell. Die-hard British car fans looking for a V-12 Esprit Volante, you'll have to keep dreaming.
Sources: Aston Martin, Automotive News (subscription required)