Looking to buy an Aston Martin vehicle? That'll be about $120,000 (for a V8 Vantage coupe). But Aston Martin's majority stakeholder, Investment Dar, is hoping to sell more than that: it's hoping to sell its $800 million stake in the British automaker.
It's been about five years since Ford Motor Company sold Aston Martin to an investment consortium for about $800 million (keeping a $64-million stake for itself), a group that included Kuwaiti firm Investment Dar Company. In that time, Investment Dar's corporate debt has mounted, and the sale of Aston Martin would go a long way to paying down some $4.39 billion in liabilities.
It also doesn't help that Aston Martin's products have a chance of growing stale. Aston is the one of only a handful of luxury/performance marques left without the backing of a big automotive conglomerate--like BMW to Rolls-Royce, VW to Bentley, Fiat to Ferrari--which leaves it without the cash to embark on costly (but necessary) research and development endeavors.
With some compelling product in the pipeline--both the DB9 and Vanquish are heavily worked-over or new--a share in Aston Martin wouldn't be the worst investment, but Bloomberg reports that price is what be the factor that is holding potential buyers back. Investment Dar is hoping to recoup 100 percent of its investment, which is worth roughly $800 million at this point.
As for the potential buyers, it's been rumored that there are at least two: Mahindra, and Toyota. Indian automaker was reportedly approached by Investment Dar some time this year, but obviously no deal has been struck yet. Keep in mind also that Mahindra has repeatedly been mentioned as "investigating" investments like Saab's remains and starting a U.S.-market company, but no plans have ever gone through.
If Mahindra doesn't bite, that leaves only Toyota on the list of potential buyers. It's a gutsy move that would put Aston Martin above Lexus as the company's flagship brand (and push Toyota closer to rivals like the VW Group in terms of number of markets served). Toyota reportedly conducted an audit on Aston Martin within the past few months, but a full-blown evaluation hasn't yet been ordered.
What say you--what does Aston Martin need, a big corporate backer, or an investor with more money to toss around? Let us know in the comments below.