The company's earlier financial problems are coming back to bite it.
The Aston Martin Valkyrie has had a troubled birth. After countless delays and numerous other challenges, the company has finally begun delivering customer cars to their patient buyers. Yet, the specter of potential financial ruin still lingers. The automaker has been declared bankrupt seven times since it was founded in 1913, and although things have improved lately with a recent $744 million investment, the British brand had to scrap and fight just to get the Valkyrie project off the ground.
According to a report from the Financial Times, Aston was so desperate in 2016 that it turned to a wealthy Swiss pair who sold the company's cars through their dealership, Nebula Project, for funding in exchange for royalties. However, these two individuals are now alleging that they have not been paid the money promised for their contributions.
According to the FT report, Andreas Baenziger and Florian Kamelger had connections to some of Aston Martin's wealthiest customers, thanks to the fact that they ran a highly successful dealership. They allege that the agreement made with Aston Martin would see them provide funding for the Valkyrie, the Valhalla, and a third car. In exchange, they were promised royalty payments of 3%, equating to around £150 million. At current exchange rates, that translates to a little over $172 million.
That sounds like more financial mismanagement from the Gaydon-based automaker, but is it? According to Aston Martin, these allegations are simply a response to the automaker's own lawsuit against Nebula Project, which dates back to last year.
In its lawsuit, Aston Martin claimed that Nebula Project had withheld customer deposits and was owed £15 million (around $21 million at the time, roughly $17.2 million in today's money). Although the automaker has noted that the new arbitration proceedings are at an early stage, it "is of the view that it can defend the claims brought by Nebula Project AG and assert valid counterclaims in the arbitration. At this stage, it is not possible to assess the group's potential total overall exposure."
Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll also had his say on the matter in a statement to FT: "Aston Martin is working with our affected customers to ensure they receive delivery of their vehicles. We are confident in our legal position and believe their counterclaims are retaliatory and without merit."
So who is right and who is wrong? As mentioned, we are still in the early stages of the legal matter, and it's therefore too soon to guess which party has the greater claim. Perhaps Aston Martin did abide by its agreement and is now being squeezed for more money. Or perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps Nebula Project chose to withhold customers' Valkyrie payments because it had not seen any of the royalties it was promised.
We hope that the automaker has been honest because the potential financial implications would put a huge dent in its recent investment, and that could mean more delays for exciting new products.